A cancer diagnosis is a devastating life-altering event that impacts virtually all aspects of a person’s life. For some patients, one significant impact beyond the obvious physical, emotional and spiritual challenges is financial difficulty. Even patients with “good insurance coverage” can face significant co-pay, deductible and other associated out-of-pocket costs related to their diagnosis of cancer. The concern can escalate should a patient lose income due to missed work, inability to work and lost productivity because of sick days, compounding the financial burden of a cancer diagnosis.
Recognizing the added financial burden and stress that can come with a cancer diagnosis, St. Luke’s has developed a new service to help reduce this burden. Helping patients find ways to reduce financial pressure also helps relieve stress in other aspects of the cancer patient’s life as well.
Many patients do not know about their insurance coverage limitations and possible assistance programs or grants available specifically to assist cancer patients. Some patients will actually delay or refuse treatment due to financial factors. This may adversely affect an individual’s quality of life and can impact their chances of survival as well.
Two full time oncology-specific financial counselors are available to assist St. Luke’s cancer patients as part of the oncology support services team. Both have had special oncology-specific financial counseling training to assist with the financial needs of cancer patients.
Meet Our Counselors
Cancer has had a personal impact on the lives of St. Luke’s oncology financial counselors Jill Reilly and Jesse Keiper. Their personal experience enables them to demonstrate an empathy and understanding about what patients are going through when working with each unique patient situation.
“I tell patients their job is to get healthy and my job is to help take the financial burden and stress off of them,” says Jill. “I am also there for them to talk to me, ask questions and, if needed, to cry or to just to vent their feelings. Whatever I can do to help them release stress, I’ll be there for them. I’m there for the caregivers, too, because people tend to forget about them. I always make it a point to ask the caregiver how they are doing and if I can help them in any way as well.”
Jesse adds, “Our job is to educate the patient on what out-of-pocket expenses they may face and help find funding from foundations, pharmaceutical-sponsored programs and local philanthropic organizations to help offset these costs. I let patients know that I am a part of their team and will be with them every step of their journey and my ultimate goal is to preserve their financial well-being.”
Jill and Jesse will refer patients to other cancer support services available for help with non-financial related concerns and issues as well. For St. Luke’s oncology financial counselors, it’s all about providing comprehensive patient-centered care, adding, “The cancer support services team collaborates to best meet the individual needs of the cancer patients and their families and caregivers.”
Jill and Jesse are available to assist patients with financial concerns at any point in their cancer treatment journey. If insurance changes or coverage is lost during treatment, or if medical costs increase due to medication treatment changes, the financial counselors are willing and able to help our cancer patients at any time when these types of issues arise.
Learn more about the cancer resources available in your community here. Learn how St. Luke’s oncology financial counselors can be a valuable part of your cancer support team; call St. Luke’s Hope Line at 484-503-HOPE (4763).