Advice on dealing with the cost of cancer care

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Cancer care is a commodity, and patients are also consumers. They should ask doctors about the cost of their treatments, or get a friend or relative to do it if they are uncomfortable asking pointed questions. Either way, experts say these are reasonable questions, especially since treatment costs can be financially challenging:

_Ask your doctor how much a treatment will cost and whether there are more affordable alternatives. If the recommended treatment is expensive, ask how much better a survival advantage it offers.

_Find out what insurance will and will not cover before agreeing to a treatment. If it’s near the end of a year, see if moving up or slightly delaying a treatment makes a big difference in your copayments or deductible.

_Consider joining a clinical trial that might help pay for your care.

_Check out programs at hospitals, drug companies and foundations that aid uninsured or underinsured patients. Some are listed in the websites below.

_Ask if your doctors have a financial stake in the treatments they are recommending.

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Online:

Advice on costs: http://bit.ly/arjDb2

Questions to ask doctors: http://bit.ly/wdzaj3

Financial help: http://www.needymeds.org and http://bit.ly/nzlqcB

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