The high incidence of breast cancer in Australia and the intense burdens related to the disease makes it a high-cost problem for both Australian patients and the Australian health system. To obtain an overall cost of what breast cancer treatment will be is extremely difficult as it is dependent upon the type of breast cancer and the extent of the disease at the time of the treatment process was taken place. However, on average, breast cancer patients can be paying out of pocket from $3000 up to $100,000 for treatment. The need for financial help for breast cancer patients are at all an all time high. Thee are many options for financial help for breast cancer patients. Below are the most common options patients can use to help pay their medical bills.
The types of costs of breast cancer to patients
– Direct costs related to health-care: This includes capital and recurrent costs such as visits to general practitioners, specialist care, medications, hospital treatments, medical diagnostic and screening services that are a result from having been diagnosed with breast cancer.
– Direct costs related to non-health-care costs: This includes transport costs to and from the relevant medical services, child care and potential home care. For patients who reside in rural or remote Australia, this can be a huge financial burden as the cost of accommodation can be high and extensive.
– Indirect costs: The costs related to indirect, intangible and non-health-care expenses are extremely difficult to determine as it depends heavily on personal circumstances of each individual.
It is important to understand however that the indirect costs are just as important for patients undergoing breast cancer treatment than the direct costs. Australians who have breast cancer can have many unforeseeable expenses and loses. These are the costs related to loss of income for example, where an Australia may have loss their job or their main source of income due to longer periods at the hospital or doctors, making it difficult to sustain a job. The treatment such as chemotherapy can often have adhesive affects on the body such as vomiting, headaches and discomfort, making it extremely unreasonable for a breast cancer patient to continue working full time.
Indirect costs also include disability, lost life years, loss of productive time and intangible costs. These often revolve around the effect of breast cancer has had on the patient’s quality of life both emotionally and mentally.
What are my options for financial help for breast cancer patients?
Breast cancer treatment and related medical expenses can be costly. Fortunately, there are a large number of options for breast cancer patients in Australia to seek financial help for breast cancer.
GP Management Plans
General practitioners will have a range of plans available for patients with chronic and long term medical conditions, including breast cancer. These plans are specifically to help patients who are unable to cover their medical expenses related to their treatment and medication. Patients can receive the option of a payment plan for example, to help patients pay off their medical debt overtime, rather than having to cover the whole medical bill before treatment commences. As a result, patients can cover their medical expenses without forgoing treatment and care.
Breast cancer patients looking for financial assistance may also be eligible for Medicare rebate. This means, patients can receive a rebate for up to five visits per year to help reduce your medical costs. Although some treatments and procedures are not covered by Medicare, patients may be eligible to access tax rebates instead. Breast reconstruction which is a common procedure that patients will undergo s unfortunately not covered by Medicare as it is viewed as a cosmetic procedure and not a life-saving procedure. In this case, the excess cost that you may be required to pay may be reclaimed through a tax rebate.
For patients who are low income earners, or who are unable to work because of their breast cancer diagnosis, Centrelink can provide fortnightly allowances to help cover living expenses. Specifically, breast cancer patients in Australia can apply for Sickness Allowance Disability Support Pension Health Care Card Carer’s Allowance.
Breast cancer patients can seek financial aid by creating an online fundraiser. Online fundraisers are a free option for patients who require funds immediately for surgery or for other treatment and for ongoing medication and general living expenses. Individuals who have recently been diagnosed and require time off work in order to receive chemotherapy treatment for example, may want to try online fundraising to raise funds. This is an ideal way to secure funding from friends and family as a means of paying for medical expenses.
1) The cost of breast cancer on your health and your pocket book http://ourhealth.org.au/stories/cost-breast-cancer-your-health-and-your-pocket-book
2) Practical and financial assistance: http://www.cancer.org.au/about-us/how-we-help-beat-cancer-every-day/practical-and-financial-assistance.html
3) Financial assistance: http://www.bcna.org.au/secondary-breast-cancer/financial-and-practical-assistance
4) Tax rebates and financial assistance for breast reconstruction: http://canceraustralia.gov.au/affected-cancer/cancer-types/breast-cancer/treatment/breast-reconstruction/deciding/factors-affecting-decisions-about-breast-reconstruction/tax-rebates-and-financial-assistance-breast-reconstruction