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Questions and Answers About Chemotherapy

Does my health insurance pay for chemotherapy?

Talk with your health insurance plan about what costs it will pay for. Questions to ask include:

  • What will my insurance pay for?

  • Do I or does the doctor's office need to call my insurance company before each treatment for it to be paid for?

  • What do I have to pay for?

  • Can I see any doctor I want or do I need to choose from a list of preferred providers?

  • Do I need a written referral to see a specialist?

  • Is there a co-pay (money I have to pay) each time I have an appointment?

  • Is there a deductible (certain amount I need to pay) before my insurance pays?

  • Where should I get my prescription drugs?

  • Does my insurance pay for all my tests and treatments, whether I am an inpatient or outpatient?

How can I best work with my insurance plan?

  • Read your insurance policy before treatment starts to find out what your plan will and will not pay for.

  • Keep records of all your treatment costs and insurance claims.

  • Send your insurance company all the paperwork it asks for. This may include receipts from doctors' visits, prescriptions, and lab work. Be sure to also keep copies for your own records.

  • As needed, ask for help with the insurance paperwork. You can ask a friend, family member, social worker, or local group such as a senior center.

  • If your insurance does not pay for something you think it should, find out why the plan refused to pay. Then talk with your doctor or nurse about what to do next. He or she may suggest ways to appeal the decision or other actions to take.

What are clinical trials and are they an option for me

Cancer clinical trials (also called cancer treatment studies or research studies) test new treatments for people with cancer. These can be studies of new types of chemotherapy, other types of treatment, or new ways to combine treatments. The goal of all these clinical trials is to find better ways to help people with cancer.

Your doctor or nurse may suggest you take part in a clinical trial. You can also suggest the idea. Before you agree to be in a clinical trial, learn about:

  • Benefits. All clinical trials offer quality cancer care. Ask how this clinical trial could help you or others. For instance, you may be one of the first people to get a new treatment or drug.

  • Risks. New treatments are not always better or even as good as standard treatments. And even if this new treatment is good, it may not work well for you.

  • Payment. Your insurance company may or may not pay for treatment that is part of a clinical trial. Before you agree to be in a trial, check with your insurance company to make sure it will pay for this treatment.

Contact the NCI's Cancer Information Service if you are interested in learning more about clinical trials.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on October 01, 2008

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