5 Questions to Ask Your Hospital Social Worker When Facing a Cancer Diagnosis

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Doctors, oncologists, surgeons, nurses — your cancer care team is made up of many people focused on you or your loved one’s treatment. Social workers are also critical members of your support team, trained to help you navigate the emotional, social, and even financial effects of cancer.

We know that asking for help can bring up feelings of shame, especially when it involves personal topics like money. Your social worker is there to listen, support, and connect you to resources that can relieve stress.

When you’re ready to meet with your social worker, these questions will help guide your conversation.

Questions to ask your hospital social worker

1. Does the hospital/care center have any resources to help families dealing with cancer?

You may also want to ask:

  • Is there a food bank within the hospital or free lunch coupons for the cafeteria?
  • Do you offer parking passes?

2. Can you help me come up with a financial plan to stay afloat during treatment?

You may also want to ask:

  • I’m worried about keeping up with my bills — how do other families handle this?
  • Are there organizations that provide financial assistance during treatment?

3. Is there a financial navigator or billing specialist who can help me manage the costs of treatment and my health insurance options?

You may also want to ask:

  • Does the hospital have payment plans or co-pay assistance programs?
  • Can someone help me review my medical bills?

4. Is my family eligible for any government assistance programs?

You may also want to ask:

  • Are there other support programs available?
  • How do I apply?

5. What can I do if I’m not able to work during treatment or recovery?

You may also want to ask:

  • What should I tell my employer?
  • Can my doctors schedule appointments on the same day so I don’t have to miss more work?

Why connect with a social worker during cancer treatment?

If you haven’t been introduced to your social worker yet, or are unsure if you have one, we encourage you to ask your care team at your next appointment.

Social workers have helped many families manage difficult emotional and financial situations during cancer treatment. They use these experiences to help you plan around the uncertainty and access helpful resources.

Your social worker will listen to your concerns and connect you with support like Family Reach’s free financial resources for cancer patients. They can even apply to assistance programs on your behalf so you can receive the support as quickly and easily as possible.

The first step to getting support is starting a conversation with your social worker, or anyone on your care team you feel comfortable with. Nicole, a single mom facing cancer, shared the importance of asking for financial help after her social worker connected her to Family Reach for support: “Sometimes we let our pride get in the way and we’re understandably protective of what we’re going through — but a closed mouth doesn’t get fed.”

She encouraged others in her shoes to know that “there are people out there who care and want to help so don’t be afraid to reach out.”

Editor’s Note: Updated June 2023

For more support, check out our free financial tip sheets.

Para más información, puede revisar nuestros consejos financieros.

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