Financial planning for cancer: staying afloat from hospital to home

Jul 12, 2018
Financial planning for cancer: staying afloat from hospital to home

Family Reach, Foundation for Financial Planning, and Financial Planning Association collaborate on innovative solution to cancer-related financial toxicity

When families face a health crisis like cancer, their ability to work is deeply affected and a household’s income drastically decreases. Often and quickly, a family will begin to incur credit card debt, borrow against 401ks and stop paying household bills to stay afloat. Every day, these same families make unthinkable and dangerous choices – do they skip a chemo appointment to pay the mortgage?

A national crisis: the financial burdens of cancer

One in three families who have a child in cancer treatment are unable to access basic needs like housing and food due to the financial burdens associated with cancer.1 For example, the Watson Family felt the financial burdens of cancer when their daughter, Effy, was diagnosed with cancer at just 2 years old. Effy’s mom, Jennifer, gave up her job as a school administrator. She stayed by Effy’s bedside and looked after Effy’s brother, Henry, while her husband, James, continued working. Their income decreased while their expenses increased during an emotional and stressful time in their family’s life.

“The bills start coming in and your real life doesn’t stop,” says Jennifer. “You still have a mortgage, gas and water – all these things to pay for. Every dollar we put away for our children’s college was gone in a month.”

The family of four soon found themselves in financial crisis called “cancer-related financial toxicity” (CRFT). In fact, only one-third of cancer patients continue working full time after a cancer diagnosis2 and 73% of adult cancer patients also experience some form of CRFT.3

What is cancer-related financial toxicity?

Cancer can significantly cut many household incomes as patients and caregivers, like Jennifer and James, put careers on hold because of treatment needs.1 Families quickly become overwhelmed by lost income and increased out-of-pocket costs associated with treatment. As a result, they face higher mortality rates4, the inability to adhere to their treatment plans5 and bankruptcy.6 This is what the oncology community has deemed “cancer-related financial toxicity” (CRFT).

The solution: financial planning for cancer

To help families before they reach a financial crisis, Family Reach, a leading national organization dedicated to alleviating the financial burdens of cancer, in collaboration with the Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) and the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) have launched Financial Planning for Cancer, a program designed to ensure financial barriers never impede a patient’s access to care.

From the start of a diagnosis, Financial Planning for Cancer pairs cancer patients and their families with pro bono financial planners to help them manage expenses and reduce debt during cancer treatment.

To do so, the Financial Planning for Cancer leverages a digital hub that matches financial planning coaches with patients and caregivers. All coaches are Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) professionals to ensure consistent professional standards. These CFP® professionals are also educated on the unique needs of cancer patients through an online training program, ensuring they are equipped to provide these families with the best support possible.

Help patients now with the Financial Planning for Cancer Program

To find out how your patients can access the Financial Planning for Cancer Program, visit https://familyreach.org/our-mission/financial-planning/ to learn more or email FTI@familyreach.org.

Astellas is not affiliated and does not endorse Financial Planning for Cancer or any of the listed organizations. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only.


References

  1. Bona K, London WB, Guo D, Frank DA, Wolfe J. Trajectory of Material Hardship and Income Poverty in Families of Children Undergoing Chemotherapy: A Prospective Cohort Study. Pediatric blood & cancer. 2016;63(1):105-111.
  2. Hoven E, von Essen L, Norberg AL. A longitudinal assessment of work situation, sick leave, and household income of mothers and fathers of children with cancer in Sweden. Acta oncologica (Stockholm, Sweden). 2013;52(6):1076-1085.
  3. Gordon LG, Merollini KMD, Lowe A, Chan RJ. A Systematic Review of Financial Toxicity Among Cancer Survivors: We Can’t Pay the Co-Pay. Patient. 2016:1-15.
  4. Ramsey SD, Bansal A, Fedorenko CR, et al. Financial Insolvency as a Risk Factor for Early Mortality Among Patients With Cancer. Journal of clinical oncology: official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 2016;34(9):980- 986
  5. CancerCare Patient Access and Engagement Report. New York: CancerCare. 2016.
  6. Ramsey S, Blough D, Kirchhoff A, et al. Washington State cancer patients found to be at greater risk for bankruptcy than people without a cancer diagnosis. Health affairs (Project Hope). 2013;32(6):1143-1152.
Financial planning for cancer: staying afloat from hospital to home

Author

Carla has had a tremendous impact on Family Reach’s financial stability, impact and growth since joining the organization in 2008. Through the implementation of a strategic national expansion plan, she increased Family Reach’s hospital partner network from five east coast hospitals to more than 300 top-tier cancer centers and hospitals across the United States. She has built a diverse network of strategic relationships and corporate partners, allowing Family Reach to now serve more than 40,000 people affected by cancer each year.

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