- Question from Nurse: How I can delay payments of bills without credit damage until I can return to my fulltime job (credit cards for covering medical bills not covered by insurance)?
- Answers - Irene Card It is most important to let your providers know that their bill is one of many. It is important to try to send a little money to each creditor each month, rather than taking one bill and paying it off before working on the next one because there are too many bills. Communication with your providers is most important when dealing with a lot of medical bills. Even though your health insurance may have paid the biggest percentage of the bill, when you have many bills each having a 20% balance, you can be strapped for a long time. Most doctors will work with you if you only let them know you have a problem. We never assume that the patient cannot pay the bill. That is why it is so important for you to discuss your financial situation with the business manager in your physician's office. If this person turns a deaf ear, speak with the doctor.
- Ruth Oratz, M.D., F.A.C.P. I would add, as the doctor, that indeed most physicians are certainly willing to work out accommodations for patients, whether it's a payment plan or other options. In addition, if there is a social worker or financial advisor available through your doctor's office, clinic, or hospital, you may be eligible for assistance from either charitable organizations or support organizations. You should inquire about those resources as well. There are many support services that are available free of charge. Although these will not necessarily pay all your medical bills, you may be able to get a lot of assistance through these programs. If you're having trouble paying for prescriptions and if you meet certain financial criteria, many oncology drug companies have financial assistance programs that will provide cancer medicines, including chemotherapy, oral agents, and hormonal therapies either free of charge or at a significantly reduced rate. So I would agree it is very important to communicate these concerns as early as possible with your healthcare providers and their social work networks.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Working During Treatment featured Barbara Hoffman, J.D., Irene Card, and moderator Ruth Oratz, M.D., F.A.C.P. answering your questions about the legal, financial, physical, and emotional aspects of working during breast cancer treatment.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in September 2007.
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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