How you are going to pay for treatment is not your first thought after being diagnosed with cancer. However, having health insurance or financial assistance gives you peace of mind. Not to mention, it is one less thing to worry about when you should be focusing on treatment and prolonging your prognosis. Your health comes first.

The cost of treatment should not affect the quality of treatment you receive.

Duke University conducted a study in 2011 that stated the average amount of out-of-pocket expenses for a cancer patient with health insurance was $712 a month. That is $8,544 a year.
Even if you have health insurance, you may find out down the road that not all services were covered.

Make sure to ask your doctor what he expects to be covered. This way you can try to plan ahead. There may be travel expenses if you are traveling for treatment. It takes time and energy managing monthly bills and sometimes affording care can become an issue. Do not fret; there is hope.

Hopefully the following information and resources helps you to afford the care you need.

Government Resources

The health care law signed by President Obama in 2010, called the Affordable Care Act (ACA), put health insurance reforms into place that have improved access, affordability, and quality in health care for U.S. citizens. Part of the plan requires health insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions like mesothelioma.

  • If you are under the age of 65 and cannot receive health insurance through your employer, I highly advise you to see if you qualify for an open enrollment period or a special enrollment period with the healthcare marketplace. Visit for more information.
  • If you are 65 or older, look into Medicare. Medicare is a federal health insurance program that also includes people under 65 with a disability who have been receiving Social Security benefits for 24 months. To qualify you must be a U.S. citizen or qualified legal immigrant and meet certain criteria. Visit for more information

There are 4 parts to Medicare coverage. I suggest looking into Part D – Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, which is optional, to help pay for prescription drugs. Most cancer drugs, like IV infused drugs given by your doctor at a hospital or clinic, will be covered by Part B. However, there are some oral cancer drugs that are only covered by Part D. Be sure to communicate with your doctor to find out if the drugs you are taking are covered.

Medicaid is a state and federal health insurance program for those with income below a certain level. These levels vary by state and please be aware that many physicians do not accept Medicaid. When diagnosed with a cancer such as mesothelioma, you may be entitled for Emergency Medicaid. Visit to see if you qualify. I also suggest contacting your hospital’s social worker to help answer your questions.

4 Supplemental Resources

  • 1

    Social Security Disability

    For those diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma under the age of 65 who have contributed to Social Security, you may be eligible for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration should expedite an application for malignant mesothelioma as it is found on their Compassionate Allowance list.

  • 2

    Create a Donation Fund

    Consider joining or having a family member create a page on a fundraising website. One example is This gives a platform for families and friends to support you financially and emotionally. Most sites are able to be updated daily with news about your condition and allows your support team to leave encouraging messages. People want to help; let them.

  • 3

    Veteran’s Assistance

    More than 30 percent of all mesothelioma patients are U.S. Military veterans. Consider enrolling in the VA Healthcare System. Copays and deductibles, as well as some prescription drugs tend to be lower than Medicare.

    Two of the top mesothelioma surgeons are in the VA health care system. Veterans who develop mesothelioma as a result of their service in the military may be entitled to benefits like VA Disability Compensation. I can get you in touch with our VA Accredited Claims Agent to see what may be available to you.

  • 4

    Asbestos Trust Funds

    Consider looking into the legal side of this diagnosis for supplemental income. There are trust funds set up by judges to help compensate mesothelioma patients who were exposed to asbestos. These trusts have been created by companies who have knowingly exposed individuals to asbestos products.

    This is money that has been set aside for mesothelioma patients to cover the cost of treatment, travel, pain and suffering. You may not be a litigious person but the legal judgement will protect you and your family in the future from unexpected medical bills.

Applying for any of these resources can be tedious. My goal is to reduce frustration and stress during this already difficult cancer journey.

Photograph of Jenna for nurses corner

Please do not hesitate to contact me to help walk you through the process or to provide additional information in any of the areas mentioned above.

Contact me by phone at 888-385-2024 x102 or email our nurse at



    Sources & Author

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About the Writer, Jenna Campagna, RN

Jenna Campagna is a registered nurse and patient advocate who is passionate about helping mesothelioma patients navigate their health care. She has over seven years of experience working with patients diagnosed with rare diseases including mesothelioma. Jenna is also a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators and her goal is to connect patients to top mesothelioma specialists, treatment facilities, and clinical trials. Through her writing, she aims to simplify the complicated journey through mesothelioma by offering helpful tips and advice.