After hearing the dreaded news of a breast cancer diagnosis, one of the first thoughts for many patients is, “how am I going to pay for treatments?”
Insured or uninsured, American Cancer Society patient navigator Jennifer Roberts said there are resources for everyone.
Roberts, who works at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, said she also needed assistance after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I actually am two years out of my chemo and radiation for breast cancer, and I experienced some assistance through the Patient Advocate Network, which is a national foundation,” Roberts said.
She underwent her breast cancer treatment at the medical center while she continued to work as a patient navigator, connecting patients with financial resources.
“I have federal Blue Cross Blue Shield for instance, so every time I would have chemo they were expecting that I pay $1,500 every chemo. That was times six because I needed six treatments,” Roberts said. “They helped because I had a bigger copay. Before that would kick in, Patient Advocate Network actually helped pay up to $5,000 for my chemotherapy. That really helped me a lot. Who has $1,500 to fork out every 21 days?”
Roberts said they work with different foundations to connect people with resources such as the American Cancer Society, The Cancer Foundation and Glory, Hope & Life.
“One of the biggest barriers that we do see is transportation, and there are a couple different avenues that we can assist our patients with,” Roberts said. “If our patient needs physical transportation to get to and from treatments, we help arrange Road to Recovery, which is volunteers through the American Cancer Society to help our patients get back and forth.”
Glory, Hope & Life, “a great resource to have in this area,” helps by giving funds to patients for gas, food and utilities, Roberts said.
“The Cancer Foundation covers several counties around us — they help with similar things, but they also help with durable medical equipment, pharmacy expenses and sometimes copays,” Roberts said.
Roberts said there is a variety of resources depending on the need.
“I typically help patients connect with Look Good Feel Better, a local cosmetologist who volunteers her time through the American Cancer Society and teaches women how to deal with adverse side effects to chemotherapy and radiation,” Roberts said.
Through the American Cancer Society, Roberts is also able to provide all her patients with a personal health manager, which is “a really nice organizer for our patients to keep track of things, because sometimes it can be really overwhelming with all the doctors, chemo and radiation appointments,” as well as one free wig.
“We do also have a hospital charity through Northeast Georgia Medical Center. What I would suggest to patients that are uninsured or underinsured is to definitely apply to our hospital charity,” Roberts said. “We do give chemotherapy and radiation at the hospital, so if a patient is approved at 100 percent, then their bill would be taken care of.”
Roberts said there are a variety of local resources that have helped patients “get to their treatment or continue on with their treatments.”
“There are definitely resources out there,” Roberts said. “I had good insurance and still I needed assistance, so there is also help for patients that still do have insurance that maybe need some assistance as well.”
“I think the biggest thing is contacting either myself or Lisa Bridges, the nurse navigator, if they are feeling like they are overwhelmed or need some help,” Roberts said. “... I think that is the best way to help them.”