When you find out you have cancer, as I did when my husband was given his multiple myeloma diagnosis, all we could think about was how were we going to pay for this long-term medical treatment. As an agent, I was in the process of getting him life insurance when the underwriter called me regarding his blood-work and asked me to give her the name of his primary care doctor so she could fax over the results. The underwriter did not disclose the issue, just asked for the doctor’s name and fax and said we should see the doctor as soon as possible. The next day we went to the doctor and then we were referred to an oncologist. From this point on, the meter was running.
This is the optimal time to find out about your medical insurance and find out what is covered and what isn’t. Depending on what time of the year it is, if you have benefits through your employer you might find you get better coverage under a different medical plan for the next plan year. Also, if you are on Medicare and you are in the enrollment period it would be prudent to review your current benefits and options to see if you might find better coverage in a different plan. Many people are not aware you can generally change your benefit choice yearly during the enrollment period.
Some of the elements of the medical insurance plan include the co-pay, deductible, and co-insurance. You will also want to check to see if there is a cost for second opinions, or the cost for out of network care or treatment in the event you don’t have access to an oncologist or specialist in your area.
You need to know this because it may be an out-of-pocket cost to you. Surprisingly, insurance companies want to hear from you. Call them to find out all your benefits. Ask to speak to a counselor or agent and ask if you can list that individual as your primary contact. Keep notes of your calls and the date and time. You may need to refer to these at a later date. Keeping notes and having a primary contact at the medical insurance company could help when you have questions about billing.
We’ve only been talking about medical bills. How about the cost of prescriptions? If you know your treatment plan you can also ask what prescriptions you will possibly be taking.
Editor’s Note: Diahanna is a Financial Myeloma Coach and can provide free assistance to myeloma patients through the Coach program. To obtain financial help, register on www.myelomacoach.org and select Diahanna as your Myeloma Coach.
about the author
Myeloma survivor, patient advocate, wife, mom of 6. Believer that patients can help accelerate a cure by weighing in and participating in clinical research. Founder of Myeloma Crowd by HealthTree and the HealthTree Foundation.