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bigbeergeek 11-22-2012 07:45 AM

Cancer and no insurance
My mother (62) was just diagnosed with endometrial cancer. No information regarding type/stage etc. She cancelled her health insurance last month, a couple of weeks before the diagnosis.

Life is a bitch sometimes.

She has no assets and is now facing an expensive battle with cancer that will begin with a hysterectomy in a couple of weeks. Just curious if any of my fellow HBT members have any advice regarding fighting cancer without money or insurance in America (beyond contacting a social worker at a research hospital, the current plan).

Thanks all.

Bensiff 11-22-2012 02:14 PM

Sorry to hear that...I'll keep her in my thoughts. As far as your question, I don't know...that is my wife's area, she is spending her days in meetings attempting to figure out how the new health care guidelines are changing and maybe somewhere in those couple thousand pages is something that will be of aid, perhaps the pre-existing condition stuff...but, I really don't know how that will work. For now as much as I can say is try to enjoy the holidays as family, friends, and laughter can do a lot to heal; if not the body, then the mind.

Pappers_ 11-22-2012 02:18 PM

Where I live, those without insurance go to Cook County Hospital, perhaps California has a similar public health system? Your mother and you will be in my thoughts and prayers.

ReverseApacheMaster 11-22-2012 10:45 PM

Does she qualify for medicaid or another state health care program? Does she qualify for medicare? Those would probably be her best bet. If she cancelled her insurance because she could not afford it, then it's plausible she could receive some aid program. If not, take a look at the county hospitals. They will provide treatment and usually they do pursue payment even if you cannot pay (at least here). However, there may be an indigent option where the hospital will offer treatment and not try to recover payment from her.

If no government agency can assist there may be local or national private aid agencies that can help.

Is it possible she worked in a job where she handled industrial chemicals? If so, workplace exposure may be a contributing cause and she may be able to obtain coverage through worker's compensation. You would definitely want to feel that out with a lawyer in her state that specializes in worker's comp claims.

There is always the option that she gets treatment and then dies without paying. I know it's not the classy thing to do but it's better than not having treatment. She would probably have to go through the public hospitals for it anyway since private providers may be unwilling to offer treatment without insurance or cash up front. It can be an option until she qualifies for Medicaid, Medicare, or another government program.

jimmystewart 11-23-2012 01:07 AM

If she's eligible for Medicare (and some people are before age 65) then the rules may allow her to enroll in a Medicare Supplement without any underwriting. It is currently the Annual Election Period (again, if she's eligible for Medicare) she can enroll into a Medicare Advantage plan. Call CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) at 1-800-633-4227 (that's 1-800-MEDICARE) and ask about eligibility and guaranteed issue / guaranteed acceptance. If it turns out she is eligible for Medicare and you think a Medicare Advantage plan is the best option, ask about what election periods she qualifies for.

If the Medicare thing doesn't work out and she won't be eligible until 65, then as ReverseApache suggested above, call the state Medicaid office. If your mom is in CA with you, they're called Medi-Cal and that number is 916-445-4171.

Those are just the first two of many, many options that exist for you. If neither of them can help you directly, they can point you towards who can. Many states even offer risk pool options for people who can not get insurance through any other sources.

This has got to be tough for your family. I wish you all the best and I hope that the little bit of information that I can give you in some way helps you to deal with it.

Stay positive.

jgln 11-26-2012 05:39 AM

So she literally felt fine, canceled her insurance, then weeks later was diagnosed with cancer, that really sucks.

BobbiLynn 12-13-2012 01:25 AM


fighting cancer without money or insurance in America
It's been a couple weeks since you posted, but sure you are still dealing with it, unless she qualified for government assistance to cover it all, but anyway, can't wait for them, she needs her treatments now. Sometimes you are better off without insurance.

Don't worry about it, she'll get top care. My husband's insurance was cancelled(but not by the insurance company who just wanted to raise his rates) after he was diagnosed because they realized he had the symptoms years ago but didn't go for the expensive tests(high co-pay). Insurance wouldn't cover anything, and wanted him to pay more monthly, so he cancelled it AFTER he was diagnosed.

The public hospital will do her surgery, she can then pay back $10.00 a month for the rest of her life if that's all she can afford. After surgery, probably next will be chemo. There are a couple new chemo pills out that the pharmacy that makes them will give her the pills for free if you don't have insurance. A good one is Xeloda(normally 8 grand a month, imagine the 20% co-pay if you had insurance). It's step by step- rare you will find one place to cover every expense, it's dealing with each one, one at a time, as they come along. Also, my husband does not qualify for any type of government assistance, we tried all that and it was a waste of time. So far, I think we spent maybe $2000 total and owe nothing else... chemo covered, radiation covered, surgery covered... It's one step at a time..

Pappers_ 12-13-2012 02:54 AM

Sorry to hear about your husband's illness, BobbiLynn.

bottlebomber 12-13-2012 03:08 AM

This may not be what you need, but get your mom a vegetable juicer. I've been juicing every day for the last 6 months or so, and I can hear, see, smell and taste better and have twice the energy that I did. My wife who has had serious problems with fibromyalgia and CFS has been working 10+ hours a day 6 days a week (I'm not slave driving her, she's doing something she loves). It may sound like an infomercial, but I am convinced that drinking beet, carrot and spinach juice is the single most important thing you can do for your health outside of exercising. And yes, I have even heard of cancer being treated and beaten using this and other techniques. And keeping a positive attitude! I'm sorry your mom has to go through this, but at least she has good and supportive family, and that is a lot.

BobbiLynn 12-13-2012 09:41 PM


get your mom a vegetable juicer
Actually a very good idea. Might be times when she can't have solids, but does not mean you have to starve!!! And easier for her to have a high calorie/high nutrient drink instead of trying to down a meal.

Also "Ensure" nutrition drinks, she'll need to keep her weight/nutrition up to get through this. They get to be expensive so go to churches, ask them to deliver some to her house. They will, none will turn you down if you just ask. Doesn't matter that you never in your life went to that church. Tell them your situation and tell them exactly what you need. Don't ask for money, ask for what she needs, they will give it to you. It's a humbling experience... you can't do it all by yourself so don't even try, otherwise you'll be in the grave before she is.

Oh, thanks, Pappers.

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