Skip to Navigation Skip to Search Skip to Content
Search All Centers

Managing Financial Concerns With a Cancer Diagnosis

Read Transcript Download/Print Transcript
View next

Published on March 1, 2016

Transcript | Managing Financial Concerns With a Cancer Diagnosis

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.        

Andrew Schorr:   

So the medicines are expensive.  When you get beyond the trial, and there are expenses depending upon how it’s set up.  You may have some expenses being in a trial.  And it’s certainly expensive in other ways; not just emotionally but travel sometimes, if you're seeking care just with one of these diagnoses.  So there is assistance.  I know for instance the people who make ruxolitinib or Jakafi, they have a program IncyteCARES. 

Imagine if the other companies, if their drugs are approved, there will be pretty typically now patient assistance programs if you're on their medicine.  And then there are other programs.  Generally if you're on Medicare—I've been on Medicare like two weeks, now, have my little card—which by the way, instead of costing me $8.00 on the train in Philadelphia the other day, only $1.  It’s great.  So I have $7 to spend with you.

Anyway, the point is that there are programs, even copay assistance programs, generally.  So, Jane, just for you, I know you’ve been around it probably as part of the healthcare team.  People have those financial worries, and there are often oncology social workers and others within the team who can help them, right? 

Jane Williams:   

Sure.  In fact, we were talking a little bit about that at lunch.  First of all, a lot of the pharmacy departments have experts in guiding patients on where to go for financial assistance.

So, first of all, utilize those services.  Our social workers also have a lot of resources.  For patients who are coming here from out of town, they can help sometimes with housing or with transportation.  As somebody said here earlier today, MD Anderson doesn’t control most of the parking facilities.  We don’t own them, so we don’t have control over giving you credit for your parking.  But the social workers sometimes can help you with some of that. 

And then we were also talking at lunchtime about things like Angel Flight.  So there are some—like volunteer pilots who will fly patients to medical visits.  And there’s even a corporation based, Angel Flight, so certainly utilize your social workers for that.

Andrew Schorr:                  

Right.  And I actually heard—and I don't know if it’s true in all cities or with other airlines, but Southwest Airlines, with many of the cancer centers, gives them and the social workers there a whole pack of free tickets. 

So you may be going—and in MPN, it may be more typical where you may have to fly somewhere to see an expert such as this.  And that’s something to ask about, is if transportation cost is an issue, is there some free travel for you, the patient.  And certainly in clinical trials, often there are accommodations to help you be in a trial.  

Andrew Schorr:                  

Now, I want to go back to Jane for one second.  Many people who have never taken charity in their life; they’ve always done everything for themselves.  The whole idea of even speaking up and asking is very uncomfortable, right?  But people should, right?  It’s there. 

Jane Williams:   

Absolutely.  And I can’t promise that we’re going to be able to help in every single situation.  We’re not going to be able to pay for everything.  But certainly let us know, because we can at least try and find some resources for you, and there are people here who know what those resources are.  So just like symptoms, we can’t help you if we don't know that you have them, and one of those may be financial issues.

Andrew Schorr:                  

Okay.  Dr. Verstovsek.

So we’ve been talking about combination therapy.  I have this worry—I know that the drug A that I take is very expensive.  And drug B, if you combine it, is going to be really expensive.  We want to have the research, and we want to have the result.  But it is a worry about the ultimate cost of all this.  I know you think about researching, and you want a cure.  How are we going to deal with all of this?

Dr. Verstovsek: 

For sure, the financial constraints should not impact our ability to explore new drugs and make people live longer with better quality of life or be cured.  So in my practice, I am not limited by the financial concerns that may or may not come later.  Because we all realize that that worry is a possibility.  If we have two drugs that are better than one, then we combine them.

But it is the ultimate goal of helping the patients live longer with better quality of life or be cured, and financial is a second problem that we will face when we get to that. 

Andrew Schorr:                  

Go ahead.

Dr. Verstovsek: 

I think that’s a problem that we will have to face if we are in a good position that we have better drugs that are providing more of efficacy when we do these clinical studies.  This is the global problem in the United States, the financial side effect of having very expensive medications.  And whether the general policy at the federal level needs to be changed, or there might be some combinations of insurance companies dealing directly with the makers of the drugs to lower the drugs on an individual basis.  I really don’t have a solution for that, but the emphasis of my work is not to worry about the financial problems.

Because if we have drugs that will cure everybody and [are] very expensive, I like that situation, because I'm going to cure everybody.  Then I will worry about the money.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

View next