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Lessening the Financial Side Effects of Care

By Amanda Patton, Manager, Communications, ACCC
February 03, 2014
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Calculator, stethscope, and financial statement

No one would argue with the fact that stresses related to the financial burden of the cost of cancer treatment are the last thing cancer patients and their families need.  And yet, according to the most recent ACCC Trends in Community Cancer Centers survey, 88 percent of respondent cancer programs reported seeing more patients needing help with prescription drug expenses, co-pays, and co-insurance.

According to a study from Duke University, many cancer patients would  like to talk about the cost of treatment with their healthcare providers, but for a variety of reasons, these conversations often do not happen.

However, this may be changing.  Along with renewed emphasis on the importance of distress screening and meeting the psychosocial needs of patients comes an increased awareness of the importance of enabling patients to focus on healing rather than on struggling with the financial side effects of care. Many cancer programs are adding staff to serve as financial advocates to help patients and their families; others are working to provide these services with existing staff.

ACCC’s newly released 2014 Patient Assistance and Reimbursement Guide is a user-friendly resource designed to help cancer programs in this effort. This is the fourth year ACCC has published the guide, which is available in both a print and digital format and includes links directly to patient assistance programs, the forms patients and providers need, and much more. The guide includes information on pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical patient assistance programs and reimbursement resources, as well as:

  • Financial counselor and patient advocate position descriptions
  • A tool to estimate patient responsibility of treatment costs
  • A charge capture flow chart
  • A patient assistance checklist for uninsured patients
  • A co-pay assistance checklist.

ACCC offers additional resources through its Financial Information and Learning Network, which includes online courses and tools for providers to help in providing patients with financial assistance services. Finally, an upcoming session on “Financial Advocacy: Improving the Patient Experience”  at the ACCC 40th Annual National Meeting will discuss strategies to meet patients’ evolving financial advocacy needs.

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