How Much Does Each Treatment Cost?
The cost of each mesothelioma treatment depends on the patient’s individual treatment plan, the health care providers they choose and their insurance coverage. Some treatments may be more affordable than others.
An April 2021 study, for example, reported on the safety and effectiveness of continuous infusion low-dose Gemcitabine plus cisplatin (CIGC). This chemotherapy regimen may be a more affordable option for patients with unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma.
The following amounts are based on the cost of lung cancer treatment, which is comparable to mesothelioma treatment.
- Chemotherapy: A 2013 cost-effectiveness study of Alimta (pemetrexed) plus cisplatin reported a total cost of $40,102 for first-line mesothelioma treatment. The cost varies depending on the exact drugs used, how many rounds are given and other factors specific to each patient.
- Surgery: Pleural mesothelioma surgery is comparable to lung cancer surgery. A stage 1 lung cancer patient could pay more than $26,000 in monthly surgery costs. But the cost of surgery depends on the specific treatment center and surgical techniques used.
- Radiation Therapy: According to a 2015 study of radiation therapy for cancer patients with Medicare, the median cost of a course of radiation for lung cancer was $9,000.
- Immunotherapy: Reuters reported in 2017 that the cost of checkpoint inhibitors can be around $150,000 annually. The combination of Yervoy and Opdivo, which has shown promising results for mesothelioma patients, can cost $256,000 per year.
For most patients, health insurance covers most of the costs of cancer treatment but still leaves major bills for patients to pay out of pocket. Research published in 2021 listed three major factors contributing to financial hardship: the cost of cancer treatment, expanding treatment options and longer treatment durations.
The study noted that the changing landscape of health insurance has led to patients paying more out-of-pocket costs for medical care. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), more than 40 million Americans have medical debt that is hurting their credit score.
What Are the Hidden Costs of Mesothelioma Treatment?
Medical bills are only part of the total financial cost of having mesothelioma. Lost income, caregiving costs and travel and lodging expenses for out of town treatments also play a role.
Insurance companies have shifted costs to patients with increasing copays, coinsurance and deductibles. Cancer patients on Medicare also face high out-of-pocket costs.
Additional hidden costs can come in the form of inherited medical expenses. Some states have community property laws and filial responsibility laws that can hold spouses or adult children responsible for a family member’s unpaid medical bills. A cosigner on a loan or credit card can also be held responsible for medical debt.
Medical debt can cause financial toxicity that can impact quality of life and access to essential care. Careful financial planning and financial assistance can help protect financial health and overall wellness for mesothelioma patients and their families.
How to Pay for Mesothelioma Treatment
To help pay for mesothelioma treatment and related expenses, patients should investigate government programs, charity resources, clinical trials and the possibility of filing a legal claim for compensation.
Affordable Care Act regulations try to limit the financial impact of diseases such as cancer. Insurance companies may not put annual or lifetime limits on coverage, and they may not deny coverage to people with cancer. If your health insurance claim is denied, a patient advocate can work with patients to help them get approved.
If you are younger than retirement age but unable to keep working, you may be able to receive monthly income through Social Security Disability Insurance. If you are over retirement age and you have very low income, you can apply for Supplemental Security Income.
If you are a U.S. veteran, you may be eligible for low-cost cancer treatment through the VA medical system. If your mesothelioma diagnosis resulted from military asbestos exposure, you can file to receive VA disability benefits and fully covered health care.
Many hospitals, companies and nonprofit groups provide financial assistance to lower the cost of treatment or provide free travel and lodging for patients who have to go to a faraway medical center. A hospital social worker or mesothelioma patient advocate can help you find these resources.
Sometimes patients can receive free treatment by participating in clinical trials of experimental therapies. Not every mesothelioma patient qualifies for clinical trials, but it is always worth it to research what clinical trials are currently recruiting.
Mesothelioma is almost entirely preventable. Most cases trace back to asbestos exposure caused by a company’s negligence, so it is not fair that patients should have to shoulder the burden of paying for cancer treatment.
An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help you evaluate your options for seeking legal compensation. In case you decide to file a legal claim, make sure you keep track of all your insurance claims and out-of-pocket expenses. These records can help you build your case later.