For patients and families undergoing bone marrow/stem cell transplantation, financial concerns are often a major source of stress. Fortunately, for Veterans receiving their care within the VA Health Care System, all of the major expenses relating to transplantation are covered (air fare to transplant city, housing, hospital transplant care, and medication costs), with only certain Non Service-Connected (NSC) veterans having co-payment costs. By comparison, for non-veterans who undergo transplants at private facilities, costs can run between $80,000 to over $300,000 for the medical care, and many additional expenses for transportation and housing are the patient's responsibility.
Costs of care
Although the majority of costs are covered for VA transplant patients, the veteran and their support person still must budget at least $600-$800 per month to cover necessary expenses. The most common expenses incurred are for daily transportation (rental car), food, and miscellaneous personal expenses. Another major expense can be airfare and lodging for relatives or friends who wish to fly in to Seattle to visit the patient—there are no VA funds available for this purpose.
VA Puget Sound Medical Care Cost Recovery (MCCR) has staff available to provide help for patients with billing concerns or for help with insurance coverage. Please call Rogene Shinpaugh at (206) 764-2314 with questions.
Sources of financial support
It is important for patients to meet with the Social Worker or Transplant Coordinator from their VA to explore sources of financial support as early as possible. It is often too late or too difficult to work on these details once you have traveled to the transplant center.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION Phone: 1-800-772-1213 www.ssa.gov*
* SSI - (Supplemental Security Income) – income maintenance program
* SSDI - (Social Security Disability Income) – higher income for people with disabilities
- claim can be opened via telephone or in person at nearest Social Security Office
- can take up to 6 months for approved claim to receive payments
VA REGIONAL OFFICE Phone: 1-800-827-1000 www.vba.va.gov
Two different forms of income available for eligible veterans and VARO also provides survivor benefits, educational benefits, vocational rehab benefits, veterans life insurance, VA home loans, etc.
* Service Connected Compensation (income for disability related to military service)
* Non-Service Connected Pension (pension to increase monthly income for disabled vets)
MILITARY RELIEF SOCIETIES - (they can refer you to your local chapter for financial support; they have helped Veterans undergoing transplants with basic living expenses.
Navy / Marine Corps Relief Society
801 N. Randolph Street, Suite 1228
Arlington, VA 22203-1978
Phone: (703) 696-4904
Army Relief Society
200 Stovall Street
Alexandria, VA 22332
- STATE DISABILITY PROGRAMS
Depending on the state you reside in, many have programs available to provide you with disability income, medical coverage for family members or children, food stamps, etc.
- Your state agency can generally be found in the Government section of your local telephone directory White Pages under Social & Health Services, or ask your VA Social Worker for a referral.
- For state specific disability information - http://employeeissues.com/state_disability.htm*
OTHER SOURCES OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT
- Family members: If relatives are aware of your need they may be willing to provide financial assistance, if multiple people combine small amounts each month, it may be enough to cover necessary expenses.
- Friends: Co-workers, neighbors, close friends, etc. may be willing to provide financial support. Many people often want to help financially but never do because they fear making the patient feel embarrassed. They just need to be asked or informed of the need in a way to open the door.
- Churches: Many churches have held fundraisers or given money from their outreach funds to patients and families during transplantation.
- Community Organizations: (Elks, Eagles, Moose, Lions Clubs, DAV, VFW, American Legion). These frequently sponsor fundraisers and appreciate the opportunity to assist their members with financial support.
- Unions: Union members are often eligible for emergency financial support from their union's outreach funds.
- Fundraisers: Many transplant patients have been able to successfully raise money to meet their financial needs by having local fundraisers. There are limitless possibilities, some of the most common include: collection containers in local stores, pancake breakfasts, car washes, letter writing pledge drives, auctions, spaghetti dinners, rummage sales, etc. The more people you get involved the better you can have fun & raise money.
OTHER IDEAS AND INFORMATION:
- LEUKEMIA & LYMPHOMA SOCIETY Phone: (800) 955-4572 or www.lls.org*
Has as an annual amount they can pay for transplant and cancer care related expensesCancerCare Assist®:
- FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE – (800) 813-HOPE (4673) or email email@example.com. Can help with cancer-related costs such as pain medication, transportation to and from treatment, home care, and child care. Descriptions of assistance can be found at http://www.cancercare.org/get_help/assistance/index.php*. Financial application available at http://www.cancercare.org/pdf/assist_app/financial_assist_app_en.pdf*
- COUNTY VETERANS ORGANIZATIONS - Most counties in the U.S. have local chapters of State Veterans Affairs offices that are able to provide financial support for concrete needs. Check with your referring social worker for contact information.
- CREDIT CARD AUTOMATIC PAYMENT POLICIES - Some people are able to benefit by having disability protection coverage on their credit cards that will make the minimum monthly payment while a person is disabled.
- HOSPITAL INSURANCE - Many people have Health/Hospital Insurance that pays income to them while they are admitted as inpatients to hospitals, some even cover outpatient care. Check with your insurance provider regarding benefits.
- NATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR TRANSPLANTS – (800) 489-3863. This organization provides patient advocacy, financial support, and informational services to transplant candidates.
- NATIONAL MARROW DONOR PROGRAM – TRANSPLANT SUPPORT ASSISTANCE FUNDS - Financial assistance available for patients receiving an unrelated stem cell transplant coordinated by the NMDP. Transplant Support Assistance Funds help pay for some costs during the first six months after transplant that are not covered by insurance. These funds can be helpful with costs related to: secondary (temporary) housing, including utility bills if you and your family or caregiver need to relocate; food for you and your family or caregiver; Parking or mileage for ground transportation; uncovered post-transplant prescriptions and clinic visits and co pays; insurance premiums (to continue your insurance coverage).
- AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY - (800) 227-2345 or www.cancer.org*. Provides referral information, cancer information, can provide grocery allowance of $50 annually, also has wigs for women, as well as cancer related literature.
- LYMPHOMA RESEARCH FOUNDATION - Patient Aid Grant Program http://www.lymphoma.org* or (800) 500-9976 or email Helpline@lymphoma.org*. Provides grants of up to $500, to be used within six months, for quality of life expenses during treatment. Patients can be reimbursed for child care, travel-related costs incurred while obtaining treatment, medical aids and devices, education and support meetings, and cosmetic aids and hygiene products not covered by insurance. Patients who are U.S. citizens, currently receiving treatment for lymphoma, in financial need, may apply. If you have questions or would like an application to be mailed to you, please provide a complete mailing address.
- CHRONIC DISEASE FUND - 10880 John W. Elliott Drive - Suite 400, Frisco, TX 75034, phone: (972) 712-0201; (877) 968-7233 (toll free patient information); email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.cdfund.org*. Financial assistance with pharmacy bills and co-pays for patients with myeloma, myelodysplasia, and rheumatoid arthritis.
These are just a few resources. You may also find other resources through website searches, word of mouth, or referral from agencies listed above. If you have corrections or additions to this list, please contact: Cathy Blanchard, Marrow Transplant Unit Social Worker at (206) 764-2619.
* Links will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites. The link will open in a new window.