- Question from HeatherV: I wish I didn't have to work anymore. I'm a Stage IV cancer patient for the last 3.5 years. I'm worried that I can't quit my job because of health insurance issues -- pre-existing conditions, etc. Is there any resource available for us at this point? My family depends on my health coverage and I feel guilty about quitting my job, even though I wish I didn't have to work anymore.
- Answers - Rosalind Kleban The issue of health insurance is very difficult. However, it's important to know that there is no such thing as a pre-existing clause. You can drop your present health insurance and if you pick up another policy within 3 months, the new company has to cover your care because it's against the law at this time to deny health insurance because of a pre-existing clause. That being said, whatever health insurance policy you may get as an individual will probably be very costly. As a Stage IV patient, if you're considering leaving work, you need to apply for long-term disability from Social Security and within a year or 18 months, you're entitled to Medicare. So, that will cover you, but does not answer the question about your family.
- Mitch Golant There's an organization called the Cancer Legal Resource Center. It's run by Joanna Morales, and they can be reached at 866-843-2572. They might have some particular ideas or suggestions, depending on where you live and the size of the company you work for, particularly with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act. These are very important questions, and this might be a very useful resource to follow up from today.
- Rosalind Kleban In working with people living with Stage IV disease, there's a constant conversation and struggle about whether to work or not. Part of the discussion that leans towards working is that it very often acts as a distraction, a way to be involved in things and people outside of the illness. So, I think that both sides of the equation should be looked at very seriously because work, for all of us, (including people with an illness) has some value.
You're making some really great points, Roz: the sort of trade-off, the secondary game coupled with the sense that life is slipping away. There's a tremendous opportunity to actually consider having more of an open conversation with your family because no matter what, the decision affects everyone. I can imagine it being quite worthwhile for you all to have a chance to talk about this all together. Of course, I don't know your family situation, but there are lots of counselors, social workers, and other support folks who might help if you're going that route.
Editor’s Note: For more information about managing health insurance and treatment costs, please visit the Breastcancer.org Paying for Your Care section.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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