Understanding Your Health Insurance
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Cancer care is one of the most expensive treatments in the country, and survivors often have medical bills long after active treatment ends. Follow-up care and not being able to work during and after treatment can affect your finances.
Additionally, navigating health insurance and knowing what’s covered and what you’ll be required to pay can be challenging.
If you or someone in your family has cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends knowing this information about insurance:
- Never let your health insurance lapse. Pay your health insurance premiums and other costs on time and in full.
- If you are changing insurance plans, don’t let one policy lapse until the new one goes into effect, including when switching to Medicare.
- Know the details of your individual insurance plan and its coverage. Ask your plan administrator for a Summary of Benefits, a description of a plan’s benefits and the costs you will be required to pay. If you think you might need more coverage, talk to your carrier to see if another plan is available.
- Contact your insurance company to ensure that any planned medical service (surgery, procedures or treatments) doesn’t require prior authorization.
- Contact your insurer if a bill looks odd or wrong so you’re not accidently overcharged.
- Send in your bills for reimbursement as you get them, and submit claims for all medical expenses, even when you’re unsure if they’re covered.
- Keep records of all claims submitted, pending (waiting) and paid, and all paperwork related to your claims (letters of medical necessity, explanations of benefits, bills, receipts, requests for sick or family medical leave and correspondence with insurance companies).
Ask for help from family, friends and providers — hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices often have someone who can help you fill out claims for insurance coverage or reimbursement. If your finances are limited, a caseworker, hospital financial counselor or a social worker can help.
If you are a City of Hope patient and have additional questions related to your health insurance, we can help you make sense of your coverage. Our managed care specialists welcome any general insurance and payment questions.
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