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Chemotherapy: The Financial Aspects


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Chemotherapy drugs are generally expensive. The cost of chemotherapy depends on factors such as: 

  • The kind of drugs used
  • The cost of the drug
  • How often you take the drugs
  • How long you take treatment
  • Where you take it
  • Side effects and the cost of treating them.

Your doctor can give you an idea of the cost of a recommended chemo treatment.   If paying for the cost is a problem, your doctor may also have ideas about financial assistance (such as from the pharmaceutical company). 

  • Chemotherapy drugs prescribed and given by oncologists are generally covered by health insurance.
  • For insurance purposes, chemotherapy given orally is generally considered to be a medication instead of a treatment. 
  • If you have health insurance, find out if your insurer will pay before starting treatment. If the company will not pay, appeal - and keep appealing. Persistence pays off. (For information about how to appeal, and strategies to use depending on why the company denies coverage, click here. If you are appealing a Medicare decision, click here. If you are appealing a Medicaid (Medi-cal in California) decision click here. )
  • If you do not have health insurance or are underinsured, many pharmaceutical companies offer medication assistance programs.  Check with your doctor to determine if you might be eligibile.
  • If you have health insurance and pay for a co-pay or for co-insurance or if you do not have health insurance and have to pay for chemotherapy totally by yourself, see our documents:  How To Deal With A Financial Crunch or Crisis and Uninsured for advice about how to maximize your resources to make the necessary payments, and how to find financial assistance if needed .

For additional information, see:

NOTE: We have information to help maintain control of your finances to retain as much of your lifestyle as possible while paying for chemotherapy. See Finances 

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