FOCUS ON CANCER: Overwhelming financial concerns


Being diagnosed with cancer is certainly difficult to handle, but add on the financial concerns, and it's overwhelming.

In the November "Focus on Cancer," we look at the help many cancer patients are receiving at Michiana Hematology Oncology.

"How am I going to pay for it. There's no way."

That's what Phil Rea wondered when he learned he had kidney cancer, and his co-pay prescription D was $3,500.

"My career was as a pharmacist," said Rea. People wouldn't, I couldn't believe they wouldn't take their medicine. They couldn't find the money to do it, and now, I understand what's going on."

It's Bonnie Miller's job to help. Miller is a patient assistance team leader at Michiana Hematology Oncology.

"Patients will have $5,000 deductibles, $10,000 deductibles," said Miller. "Sometimes, that dollar amount is far and above what everyone can afford."

Miller's team is trained to identify areas of assistance for patients. Are they insured, under-insured, how will they afford this. It's a constant stream of information to monitor for a patient who often is worried and afraid.

"The patient can't work," Miller added. "They're sick. They're ill. They don't know what to do, and they're afraid. They don't know how they're going to pay their bills or take care of their family or if they're going to be able to go to work."

On daily basis, Miller and her team help some 30 patients navigate their bills and many times, their tears.

"It's a very emotional time, but I get to go home, and I helped someone, even if they don't know I helped them."

"It scares me, it scares me, it really does," Rea admitted.

Miller says she sees people afraid to ask for help, thinking they might not get the treatment needed because they can't afford it..Help is out there, so talk to your doctor and seek help from the various advocate groups in place.