For all of us, especialy for those who have serious health problems, it is a very challenging time with the extreme changes in our lives since the pandemic. As if you needed a new challenge, right? Perhaps you’ve found yourself with a new treatment plan because of the social distancing requirements as well as the redirection of medical assets. No matter the place you find yourself now, eventually you will be right back in a more normal, not necessarily old normal treatment plan. So, while you are forced to stay home, let’s look at some things you can be doing on the home front now to better prepare you for the next steps coming.
If you are now taking oral medications at home rather than going for treatment, you may find that the cost of your prescription has gone up. If you are going to be on this drug for an extended period of time, and it is too costly ask your oncologist if there is a alternative that will give you the same benefits but cost less or investigate the company's patient assistance program. Look at your other medications as well. All of them. Is there a medication here that you can trade for a less expensive one? Don't forget to talk to your pharmacist for discounts available or grants they may have or know about. They will often know what pharma companies requirements are and how to contact them.
If you have lost your job or on furlough as a result of the pandemic, what has changed with your medical insurance? If you have lost or will be losing your insurance is Cobra an option? Remember COBRA is much more expensive than the employer paid plan as you will be picking up the full cost of the premiums. Consider looking at the Affordable Health Care Insurance options in the marketplace. There are generally options you can enroll in and it may take ony a few minutes. Review the plan coverage before selecting. Don't forget the presription portion of the plan. If you no longer have a job your income has probably dropped significantly this may be a good alternative to COBRA. If you have lost your job permanently, review your employer insurance. You may have life insurance that you can convert to your own policy and you will have a limited amount of time to do so.
There are several patient assistance foundations that provide financial assistance to myeloma patients. However, they often run out of money early. Some grants are already depleted, though they sometimes find additional funds throughout the year. If you have aready received funds, I would suggest you keep a copy of the application and have it ready to resubmit when funding comes available again. Keep in mind that some donors only allow you to get one grant per year. However, you can have the paperwork ready for the next year. It is always first come first served. I know the paperwork can be tedious, but most applications are similar. Don't despair, any amount is worth the effort.
As a Myeloma Coach, I am a Free resource availabe to myeloma patients. If you have specific financial questions or needs you can find/connect with me at: www.myelomacoach.org.
Diahanna Vallentine, BCPA
about the author
Diahanna is the Financial Program Manager for the HealthTree Foundation, specializing in financial help for multiple myeloma and AML patients. As a professional financial consultant and former caregiver of her husband who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, Diahanna perfectly understands the financial issues facing myeloma patients.