How to Manage the High Costs of Breast Cancer



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Molly MacDonald was transitioning to a new job in 2005 when she was hit with some unexpected news: She had breast cancer, and would have to undergo operations and chemotherapy, stat.

Thankfully, the disease was caught at an early stage. But after six months of treatments during which she couldn’t work, MacDonald says the financial reality of her situation was, to put it lightly, bleak. She was paying $1,200 per month in insurance premiums and her home went into foreclosure. She even started cutting her children’s hair to save on costs. Eventually, the family found itself in line at the local food bank.

“I was thinking we are going to join the ranks of the homeless, ” MacDonald says. “I felt really hopeless.”

MacDonald’s dire situation illustrates what a lot of women who get diagnosed with breast cancer have to deal with: A massive influx in costs that treatment requires. According to research fromThe Pink Fund, an organization MacDonald launched that gives financial support to breast cancer patients to meet basic needs while they’re in treatment, 50% of personal bankruptcies are the result of an illness or illness-related job loss.

While cancer is an extremely costly disease to treat—even with insurance—there are ways to manage it. Should you or a loved one have a breast cancer diagnosis, here’s what you need to know.

Manage Your Insurance Costs

Experts estimate treatments can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, not counting the income lost from not working or other expenditures like transportation to and from treatment centers. And despite the physical and emotional strains patients and their families undergo, there is little time to waste to get your finances in order. Here are some steps you should take:

  • Ask a financial counselor at the hospital what the co-pays are, and see if they can…