November is National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month. According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 2019 is estimated to see upwards of 56,600 cases diagnosed. That is more than 150 people per day who will find themselves navigating the difficult waters of treatment – and how to afford it.
As a medical billing company, AMPM recognizes the importance of education in times such as these. Here are a few facts to help along the way.
What is Pancreatic Cancer?
The Mayo Clinic explains that pancreatic cancer begins within the tissue of the pancreas, an organ that produces enzymes that keep blood sugar in check and play an important role in digestion. Unfortunately, this form of cancer can spread very quickly to the surrounding organs, making it particularly aggressive. To complicate matters, early symptoms may be overlooked or attributed to other less serious illnesses.
Pinning down the direct cause of pancreatic cancer is difficult. Risk factors include obesity, diabetes, smoking and heredity; however, these conditions do not need to be present for this type of cancer to occur. In addition, because the pancreas is located deep within the abdomen, palpation of the tumor by a patient or doctor can be difficult. The elusive nature of pancreatic cancer can often lead to late-stage diagnosis.
Early detection is essential for successful treatment as patients that are diagnosed too late may be ineligible for surgery. Nevertheless, new strides are being made every day, with early detection being a top priority in research.
Tackling Pancreatic Cancer Financially
While healing and remission are the ultimate goals of battling pancreatic cancer, it is also important for patients and their families to formulate an effective financial game plan. Money matters are often the last thing on a patient’s mind when faced with a serious illness, but taking a few simple steps right away can make things easier later. The American Cancer Society stresses the importance of obtaining and maintaining health insurance during the course of treatment.
It is important to understand the terms of your insurance coverage. Here are a few key things to bear in mind:
- Is your treatment team in network? What are the in and out of network benefits of your insurance plan?
- Are tiers involved, and how do costs change based upon tiers?
- Make sure your coverage remains active for the duration of your treatment – do not let it lapse.
- If you need to switch coverage, make sure that your current insurance stays active until the new plan becomes effective.
- Find out what referrals and authorizations are required prior to treatment.
- Fully and carefully read HIPAA forms and then fill them out as completely as you can. Be sure to authorize permission to anyone you want to handle insurance and billing matters on your behalf.
- Stay organized. Keep all documentation in a safe place and always ask for a reference number when speaking with insurance representatives.
A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can be daunting enough without being overwhelmed by financial issues. If you are currently uninsured, the American Cancer Society recommends finding a caseworker or other financial counselor to help you seek out payment and financing options. It is important to realize that helpful avenues exist, and being fully educated on these pathways can make all the difference.
Disclaimer: The materials contained on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal or other professional advice on any subject matter. Advanced Medical Practice Management does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site.