Mesothelioma Treatment Costs
Asbestos-cancer patients who are concerned about paying for necessary cancer treatments have several options. While each diagnosis and necessary treatment is different, the cost of most treatments is high, even with insurance.
The most common types of treatment include radiation, chemotherapy and, sometimes, surgery. Some patients undergo complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments that are equally costly. In some cases, insurance covers some of these costs. But even with that, the out-of-pocket costs can be exorbitant.
When you add travel expenses, lodging, food, medication and other necessities, it’s a wonder anyone can pay for treatment. Luckily, there is financial assistance for the patients who need it. In some cases, insurance companies step in to help. In other cases, private charitable organizations and government programs can help.
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What treatment costs can I expect?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is difficult to treat. The three conventional treatments -- chemotherapy, radiation and surgery -- are known to be expensive, whether the treatment is curative or palliative:
Chemotherapy - The only FDA-approved medication used to manage the symptoms of pleural asbestos cancer is a combination of the chemotherapy drugs Alimta and cisplatin. In some cases, insurance companies will not pay for brand-name medications, instead demanding generic versions. Estimated costs for an eight week chemotherapy course alone can be as high as $30,000, with the initial treatment running about $7,000.
Radiation - Radiation treatments are carried out by highly skilled physicians who have been extensively trained to use advanced equipment. These treatments can cost between $10,000 and $50,000, depending on a number of factors.
Surgery - In some cases, surgery may be the best form of treatment for asbestos cancer. This can remove the diseased tissue to allow other treatments to work better. A typical lung cancer surgery is nearly $40,000.
CAM - Complementary and alternative treatment costs depend on insurance coverage. For example, acupuncture or massage therapy, which help with nausea and stress relief, can run about $100 to 150 per session if not covered by insurance. If they are covered, the cost would be a co-pay.
What are some hidden costs?
There are many costs that patients and their families don’t initially think about when beginning treatment. These costs often come as a surprise:
- Lost wages -- While some employers have generous extended sick pay, many do not. That means patients are forced to take time off work or even quit.
- Caregiver lost wages -- In many cases, it’s not just the patient who is forced to quit a job due to illness. Often, the main caregiver must give up employment, even if it is temporarily.
How can I pay for treatment?
There are many resources for patients and their families, including legal, government and charitable assistance:
- Legal - Mesothelioma is a disease that results from asbestos exposure, and most asbestos exposure happens in the workplace. To date, thousands of injured employees have filed successful lawsuits against at-fault employers or corporations because of asbestos exposure. In most cases, these employers or corporations knew about the dangers and disregarded them. Our mesothelioma lawyers can file a lawsuit on your behalf against the at-fault companies.
- Government - Programs such as Social Security and VA benefits can help families. In some cases, families could receive Social Security disability benefits, which gives a monthly stipend. The Department of Veterans Affairs also gives disability benefits to asbestos patients who were exposed during military service.
- Charity - Many non-profit organizations provide assistance to cancer patients in many ways. This includes LifeLine Pilots, which provides free transportation for medical needs and other worthy causes.
American Cancer Society. Economic Impact of Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/economic-impact-of-cancer
National Cancer Institute. Costs of Cancer Care. Retrieved from http://progressreport.cancer.gov/doc_detail.asp?pid=1&did=2007&chid=75&coid=726&mid