Top 10 Financial Resources for Cancer Survivors

Sandi Johnson, LICSW, social work supervisor at the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI), has years of experience helping cancer survivors find the financial and other resources they need to address a current or impending crisis. There are quite a few local, regional and national resources available to survivors, but Johnson has simplified the search somewhat by compiling a resource list — Sandi's Top 10 Financial Resources — that should be of particular help to Seattle-area residents.

1. Washington State 211

This resource provides useful information on a variety of topics designed to help you make informed choices about available community services and resources in your area. The phone numbers for Region 6, which includes Seattle and King County, are (206) 461-3200 and toll-free 1-800-621-4636. Web site: http://www.resourcehouse.com.

2. Foundations

Check with the Foundation at the hospital where you receive care to see if financial assistance might be available for rent, utilities, child care and other necessities. Also:

  • The Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI): The SCI has a Patient Assistance Fund for patients and survivors who are currently receiving treatment, who have financial need, and who receive their care at Swedish. It includes assistance with medications for quality of life, rent, utilities, etc. Call (206) 540-0047.
  • Susan G. Komen Foundation through Cancer Lifeline: Low-income women living with breast cancer can apply for a $400 grant. SCI oncology social workers can help with the application process, or call Cancer Lifeline at (206) 297-2100.
  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Survivors diagnosed and living with leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, etc. can apply for a $500 grant. SCI oncology social workers can help with the application process.

3. Transportation

The American Cancer Society (ACS) of Western Washington has a volunteer transportation program: Road to Recovery. For more information, contact Sarah Mathison, the Swedish Cancer Institute's ACS resource navigator, at (206) 215-6557. Also, contact Senior Services of King and Snohomish Counties (see item 8).

4. Co-Pay Assistance

Co-pay assistance or information on how to obtain co-pay assistance is available from a number of different sources, including:

  • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Co-Pay Assistance Program, which offers assistance toward private health-insurance premiums; private insurance co-pay obligations; and Medicare Part B, Medicare Plan D, Medicare Supplementary Insurance and Medicare Advantage premium or co-pay obligations. Call (877) 557-2672 or e-mail copay@LLS.org.
  • The Healthwell Foundation at (800) 675-8416 or www.healthwellfoundation.org.
  • The Patient Advocate Foundation at (866) 512-3861
  • For further assistance, call a SCI social worker at (206) 540-0477.

5. Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration can provide both Supplemental Security Income, which is based on disability and requires that you have limited to no income and resources under $2,000. It also provides Social Security Disability, which is based on a disability determination and has a six-month waiting period. For more information, call (800) 722-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov.

6. Insurance Programs

Please see the related article in this issue about Survivors and Health Insurance.

7. Hospital Financial Assistance/Charity Care Programs

Check with your hospital's financial or billing department. All hospitals offer charity care programs, and eligibility is usually determined by income only — though requirements do vary by hospital. The amount of charity care provided can range from 10 percent of your bill to 100 percent.

8. Senior Services of King and Snohomish Counties

Senior services are a great resource for people age 60 and older, providing up-to-date information on social services, nutrition services, transportation, legal services, financial and housing resources, and much more.

9. Solid Ground/Hopelink

Solid Ground and Hopelink are separate humanitarian organizations that can help cancer survivors in financial need with:

  • Food and nutrition, including emergency food, helping you learn how to grow organic produce, free cooking classes, and special assistance to infants and toddlers.
  • Shelter and housing, whether you are homeless and need a place to live or just need help to stay in your current home.
  • Transportation and communication, by providing used cars for travel to work, door-to-door van service for those who can't drive, and voice mail for the homeless.

Special assistance is also available through Solid Ground and Hopelink for people over 55 years of age and people with disabilities.

10. Oncology Social Workers

The oncology social workers at the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) are trained counselors who can help survivors better cope with many of the problems associated with cancer and survivorship, including coping during and after treatment, financial concerns, and connecting with community agencies and services. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call (206) 540-0477.