#MissionMonday: Announcing the Financial Treatment Initiative

 In Mission Monday, Programs, Research

For more than two decades, Family Reach has remained dedicated to eliminating the financial burden of cancer for patients and their families. This year we joined Vice President Joe Biden as he announced findings from his  Cancer Moonshot Task Force, an initiative announced at President Obama’s State of the Union Address earlier this year.

In response to the Vice President’s call for collaboration and action through the Cancer Moonshot, we are expanding our efforts and introducing our Financial Treatment Initiative, a groundbreaking program that addresses every aspect of this problem, providing families with the resources and support they need to maintain their whole financial health while they fight cancer.

The Financial Treatment Initiative zeroes in on three key focus areas that we have identified as being crucial to financial health through our work with hospitals, doctors, patients, and caregivers:

  • Education & Awareness: The first step is to open the lines of communication between patients and healthcare professionals. This will ensure that patients and families have a clear understanding of available resources. Tools include:
    • Risk Assessment: Based on a comprehensive risk assessment, the patient’s social worker or financial navigator will customize a program that fits each patient and his or her family’s specific needs.
    • Financial Handbook: An educational handbook that is written by patients and caregivers will outline the often hard-to-find information and address the direct and indirect costs that accompany cancer care
    • Research: Institutions who have adopted the Financial Treatment Initiative will conduct academic studies measuring the impact of the program. This data will help to raise awareness for the value of financial interventions, ultimately influencing policy change in support of financial health for cancer patients and families.
  • Financial Navigation & Counseling: The Financial Treatment Initiative provides patients with professional 1:1 services to guide them through the process.
    • Medical Costs & Insurance: A specially trained financial navigator will work through the complexities of costs of care and related insurance with each patient and family. This will enable them to optimize health insurance coverage for their specific need, provide access to patent assistance for medications, help with the disability application process, identify assistance for transportation, and more.
    • Non-Medical Costs: Through a partnership with the Foundation for Financial Planning and Financial Planning Association, certified financial planners will provide their services pro-bono to patients and their families to better plan for anticipated care-related expenses and loss of income.
  • Financial Assistance: To prevent patients from having to make impossible financial decisions, direct financial support is also provided for emergent needs. This comes in the form of:
    • Direct Assistance Grants: Direct assistance grants will provide funding to cover the non-medical expenses that often become unmanageable due to additional costs and loss of income associated with diagnosis and treatment. These costs include mortgage payments, utility bills, food, etc.
    • Ecosystem Support: Leveraging a network of corporations committed to giving back, the Financial Treatment Initiative will provide patients and families with pro-bono or discounted services to help manage everyday living costs that are often left unpaid during cancer treatment – such as transportation, communications, groceries and more.

The Financial Treatment Initiative will kick off as a pilot at two major cancer centers: Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Tufts Medical Center. By intervening at the clinical level, the program aims to remove financial barriers and ensure access to care and adherence to life-saving treatment, ultimately increasing a patient’s chance of survival. The impact of the Financial Treatment Initiative on each patient’s financial health and medical outcomes will be measured and reported on by clinical research experts at Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research and Tufts Medical Center.

We’re confident that the reports will confirm what we already know – families fighting cancer are more likely to have a positive outcome if they receive holistic financial support. With this evidence in hand, we’ll be better equipped to support policy transformation designed to reduce cancer treatment-related financial burdens and improve cancer patients’ outcomes. That means families like the Capellas, whose hardworking, devoted father was diagnosed with Stage IV prostate cancer, won’t have to choose between paying college tuition bills or paying treatment costs. Or families like the Sampsons, whose daughter is fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia, won’t have to spend sleepless nights wondering how they’ll pay the mortgage.

Cancer patient care and treatment is on the cusp of tremendous change and at Family Reach, we’re excited to play such a big part in bringing financial solutions for patients and families who need us now.

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