National Cancer Survivors Month: Helping cancer patients receive the advanced treatment they need

There are plenty of unknowns when someone is diagnosed with cancer, many depending on the different types of the disease. Is it terminal? What is the life expectancy of someone with this disease? What are the treatment options? With advances in medical technology, there are now a range of effective treatments to battle all different types of the disease, some of which have been shown to remove all traces of cancer from the body. But these treatments often come with a high cost even with insurance, and some of the newer, more experimental treatments aren’t covered at all.

That’s where we come in. At HelpHOPELive, we can help patients raise funds for the medical costs that insurance won’t pay for, whether they’re experimental new treatment options or the out-of-pocket expenses incurred while receiving treatment.

So what procedures or treatments do insurance plans cover, exactly? Well, more often than not it depends on the particular insurance provider and plan. With the Affordable Care Act some items are covered across the board, for example patients who enroll in clinical trials or who undergo cancer screenings. However there are still many procedures that remain uncovered.

One of the most prevalent treatments often left uncovered by insurers is a bone marrow stem cell transplant. When a patient’s bodily systems are overrun with cancer cells, chemotherapy is used to eliminate the sick cells. Once those cells have been purged, patients are given stem cell transplants, delivering cells taken from a donor’s healthy bone marrow in order to start generating healthy, non-cancerous cells in the recipient. Primarily prescribed for blood diseases and cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, this treatment is often made difficult due to the lack of donors and the rarity of a perfect match. There can also be high costs incurred while waiting for a donor or traveling long distances to a dedicated facility.

Recently, there has been an emergence of stem cell implants from a new source – umbilical cord blood. In a cord blood stem cell transplant, stem cells are harvested from the blood of the umbilical cord once it has been removed from the mother and child, with minimal risk to either of them. These stem cells are unique in that they are early enough in their development phases that they can be adapted and implanted into a host without being a perfect match. Despite their great potential, cord blood transplants are rare and frequently not covered by insurance. The umbilical cord blood and the stem cells it carries are disposed of in 96% of births in the US.

There are many forms of treatments available to combat the debilitating disease of cancer, and with ongoing developments in healthcare technologies, even better treatments are on the horizon. But even with improved access in the insurance coverage marketplace, there are some services that insurance companies may deem too expensive or too unfamiliar to cover. At HelpHOPELive, we want to help anyone fighting a catastrophic illness to be able to afford the care that they need. For more information on how you can contribute to our effort today, click here.

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