Mesothelioma Costs and Health Insurance

mesothelioma costsMesothelioma costs need to be considered, unfortunately, almost as soon as you get your diagnosis. Treatments can be expensive and your mesothelioma costs can add up quickly. You can get help paying for mesothelioma treatment from your health insurance provider, Medicare, Medicaid, and possibly from financial assistance programs if needed. Once you and your physician have decided on a treatment plan, you will should gather information and map out a financial plan. Being prepared for your financial share of the cost of your treatment is important. Your lawyer can help by explaining when settlement funds may be expected.

Mesothelioma Cost Factors

Your mesothelioma costs won’t be exactly the same as another patient’s because your treatment plan will be tailored just to you. It’s good to get an estimate of the cost in advance of treatment, but keep in mind that things can change as your illness progresses. Blood tests, imaging, respiratory therapy, and additional medications may drive up costs. Many factors will influence the cost of your mesothelioma treatment – here are the major ones:

  • Type of Treatments: Surgery, Radiation, Chemotherapy, Biological Therapy
  • Duration of Treatment: Total Amount of Time Needed To Complete Treatment
  • Frequency of Treatments: How Often Treatments Are Scheduled
  • Treatment Setting: Home, Clinic, Hospital

How Health Insurance Can Help

Your health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or private, should pay for most of your mesothelioma costs. Call your insurance provider and tell them your diagnosis and treatment plan, then ask about details of your coverage, deductibles, premiums, and co-payments. Speak to the financial director at your oncology clinic and make sure they accept your type of insurance. If it’s going to be a stretch to pay all the bills, ask about payment plans and financial assistance.

Ask about coverage for second opinions from health professionals outside the plan. If the answer is “no”, talk to your lawyer about options.

Negotiating Health Care Liens for Mesothelioma Costs

Keep in mind that if you have filed a personal injury lawsuit against those who exposed you to asbestos and caused your mesothelioma – and I hope you have – then your health care provider will expect to be reimbursed for your mesothelioma costs from your settlement.

Contact your attorney and have them negotiate the medical bills for you. That is what we do for our clients. We make sure by going through the medical bills line by line that our clients do not get stuck with bills that have been inflated in anticipation of a settlement or are for unrelated matters. We also remind the medical providers that they are required by law to help pay the legal costs of obtaining a settlement for reimbursement. This often leads to a reduction in medical bills that we always pass along to our client. From a starting point of medical expenses that initially could total over $100,000, our client may wind up paying only $30,000 – $50,000.

How the Affordable Care Act Can Boost Insurance Coverage

The Affordable Care Act may improve insurance coverage of your mesothelioma costs. The law:

  • Requires health plans to cover people with a pre-existing condition such as cancer
  • Makes cancer screening tests available at little or no cost to patients
  • Prohibits insurance plans from canceling coverage if patient gets sick
  • Prohibits insurance plans from charging sick people – including those with cancer – more for coverage than healthy people
  • Prohibits annual and lifetime dollar limits on the amount of a patient’s care the plan will pay for
  • Requires insurers to provide current policyholders and people shopping for coverage with a short and simple summary of their coverage
  • Makes sure that patients who take part in clinical trials are covered for their other health needs
  • Helps individuals with low or moderate incomes buy health insurance

How to Get Additional Financial Help

Even if you have health insurance, you may still need some financial help with treatment and prescription co-pays. Knowing whom to ask for that help is one way to get started. Speak with the financial director at your oncology clinic about payment programs, financial aid, and local organizations that may help with mesothelioma treatment costs. Your doctor is a good resource to check with about clinical trials, which may be available at no cost to you. At the hospital, check with their social worker to learn what financial assistance resources they may offer.

Bottom Line on Mesothelioma Costs

There’s no doubt that mesothelioma is a costly disease to treat. But even if cost appears to be a barrier to treatment, seek help – don’t skip the treatment. The longer you go without treatment after a mesothelioma diagnosis, the more expensive it will be to treat. To make a little easier on your health, your family, and your budget – prepare to meet the costs of mesothelioma treatment by knowing your treatment plan, understanding your health insurance, and seeking help with the cost of care. Your life is priceless so take these steps now.

Mesothelioma Medical Treatment Power of Attorney

Mesothelioma Medical Treatment Power of AttorneyA mesothelioma medical treatment power of attorney is important to have in place. This document is officially called the durable power of attorney for health care. You may have already set up a power of attorney to designate someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. This is different.

Specifying who will carry out your end-of-life wishes for mesothelioma medical treatment and exactly what your wishes are comprise the two main components of an advanced care directive. Your estate planning attorney’s services should include preparation of these forms.

Who Will Make Mesothelioma Medical Treatment Decisions for You?

The person you select as your power of attorney for mesothelioma medical treatment will step in to make decisions when you no longer can. This person is considered your agent. Most people name a spouse, partner, relative, or close friend as their agent. In California and other states, your agent cannot be:

  • your health care provider
  • an employee of your health care provider, unless the individual is your registered domestic partner or is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption — or you and the employee both work for your health care provider

How to Decide Who Should Be Your Power of Attorney for Mesothelioma Medical Treatment

When deciding who will be your agent for your power of attorney as your mesothelioma progresses, keep in mind that the most vital qualities needed are trustworthiness and dependability. You should also choose someone you think will be able to defend your mesothelioma treatment wishes if others argue against them — someone who would be persistent and calm under pressure.

It is also important to make sure that the person you name is willing and able to travel to your bedside if necessary.

Best Ways to Help Prepare Whoever You Choose As Your Power of Attorney

Your agent will have to start making mesothelioma health care decisions for you if and when you are no longer able to do so. This can be stressful for him or her. There are steps you can take now to lessen the emotional strain.

Collect the information needed for decision-making. Talk to your doctor, oncologist and surgeon now to start understanding your options for mesothelioma treatment at the end of life. Organizations such as your local hospice also may have useful information.

Discuss your end-of-life choices with your agent. As difficult as it is, have a conversation about your decisions with your designated agent and make sure he or she feels prepared to carry out your wishes.

Some questions to discuss:

  • Are there any medical treatments for mesothelioma you want or do not want?
  • When you are dying, do you want to be in a nursing home, hospital or at home?
  • What options for pain management and hospice care do you want pursued on your behalf?

Inform people of your preferences. Tell your doctor, family and close friends about your end-of-life wishes so they will understand and respect your agent’s actions on your behalf. Keep a copy of your signed completed advance health care directive in a safe logical place that is easily accessible.

Give a copy of your form to:

  • The person you appoint as your agent and any alternate designated agents
  • Your primary care physician
  • Your other health care providers
  • The health care institution that is providing your care
  • Family members and close friends

Accidental Mesothelioma Treatment Led to Longest Survival in Medical Literature

In this video I discuss the case of a Kazan Law client whose misdiagnosis and subsequent treatment led to the longest mesothelioma survival documented in medical literature. The lesson is that aggressive mesothelioma treatment–surgery–can significantly prolong a person’s life.

Promising Mesothelioma Research Nets Awards For Young Scientists

mesothelioma researchMesothelioma research can be expected to make great strides in the coming years thanks to new exciting work underway now all over the world by young scientific investigators. Five of this promising group just received the Young Investigator Travel Awards at the twelfth biennial meeting of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig 2014), held in Capetown, South Africa. Our firm is proud to have initiated this important award in 2008 and to continue to sponsor it. On behalf of all of us at Kazan, McClain, Satterley and Greenwood, we would like to offer our congratulations on receiving the Young Investigator Travel Awards to each of these promising young mesothelioma research scientists.

Their achievements are a source of pride and inspiration to all of us involved in mesothelioma who seek new pathways to treat and cure this devastating disease. We hope they realize how many people – those with mesothelioma, their families and those of us who strive to help them medically and legally – appreciate the outstanding work they are doing in this field.

It is always a pleasure to see hard-working forward-thinking young researchers receiving the recognition they deserve. The award reflects the endless hours they have spent in their labs on their mesothelioma research projects.

We look forward to seeing the results of their future work in mesothelioma research and wish them every success.

2014 iMig Young Investigator Award Recipients

Sébastien Anguille, MD is a researcher at the University of Antwerp and Antwerp University Hospital
Edegem Belgium. He is one of the authors of a recent paper “Dendritic cell vaccination in malignant pleural mesothelioma: A phase I/II study” published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Lincun Wu, MD is a research associate with the University Health Network in Toronto, Canada’s Mesothelioma Research Program at the Princess Margaret Cancer Center. There, Dr. Wu is involved in a research project to improve the outcome of mesothelioma by combining chemotherapy with immunotherapy.

Alistair Cook, PhD is a research assistant professor in the School of Medicine and Pharmacology of the University of Western Australia. He is the lead author of a recent study about a potential new way to improve anti-tumor immunity or chemo-immunotherapy efficacy in mesothelioma treatment.

Tanguy Siewert, MD is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. He specializes in head, neck and lung cancers. He studies which novel drugs appear most promising, which individual tumors are more likely to respond to these treatments, and how to successfully combine therapies. Dr. Seiwert uses this pre-clinical knowledge to develop new treatments for use in clinical trials, and to ultimately improve patient care.

Kimberly Birnie is earning a PhD at the Lung Institute of the University of Western Australia where she is focused on malignant mesothelioma research. She has been recognized by the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand for her work

Mesothelioma Research Presented by Kazan Law at iMig 2014

I am pleased that our firm was chosen to present three research abstracts at the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig 2014) conference in Cape Town, South Africa. In this video I provide an introduction to the mesothelioma research abstracts and explain how they are presented at the world’s leading conference on mesothelioma.

Kazan Law to Present at World’s Leading Mesothelioma Conference

We are very excited to be heading off to Cape Town, South Africa for the twelfth biennial meeting of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig 2014).

We are particularly honored that Kazan Law has been chosen to present some of our own research work at this conference. Like the Boston conference in 2012, this year again in Cape Town we are the only law firm in the world whose work has been accepted for presentation.

Why You Need a POLST if You Have Malignant Mesothelioma

POLSTDoctor’s office forms, hospital test forms, insurance forms. When you have malignant mesothelioma, you get handed lots of clipboards and wind up filling out lots of forms.  But there is one form you need to make your sure you fill out.  That’s the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment known as the POLST.

As a patient with malignant mesothelioma, there are many things in your life that are not in your control.  But the POLST helps give you control over one very important thing – your medical care.  The POLST also helps you talk with your healthcare team and your loved ones about your choices.  It can help prevent you from receiving unwanted or ineffective medical treatment.  In this way, the POLST can help spare your family the anguish of not knowing what type of medical procedures to say yes or no to. It makes sure that your wishes are known and honored.

The decisions documented on the POLST form include whether to:

  • Attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation,
  • Administer antibiotics and IV fluids,
  • Use a ventilator to help with breathing, and
  • Provide artificial nutrition by tube

Where can I get a POLST form?

You can request the form from your doctor. The form can also be found at www.caPOLST.org

Is the POLST required by law?

Filling out a POLST form is entirely voluntary, but as of 2009, California law requires that the physician orders in a POLST be followed by health care providers.

Does the POLST form replace the Advance Care Directive?

The POLST form complements an Advance Directive and is not intended to replace that document. You still need an Advance Directive to appoint a legal health care decision-maker.

What happens to my POLST form after it is completed and signed?

The original POLST form should stay with you at all times.

  • In a hospital, your POLST will be in your medical record or file.
  • At home, place your POLST in a visible location so it can be found easily by emergency medical personnel – usually on a bedside table or on the refrigerator

Kazan Law First to Support Upcoming iMig 2014 Conference for Mesothelioma Research

iMig 2014 Cape TownMesothelioma research, like all scientific research, does not happen without funds. Although funds for mesothelioma research come from government agencies, universities and hospitals, it is no secret that money from private sources helps get the ball rolling either through funding the grant application process, additional staff positions, purchasing state-of-the-art equipment or helping to support conferences where researchers from all over the world can sit together and really discuss ideas.

That’s why our firm Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood, A Professional Corporation is proud to be the first law firm to step up and provide substantial financial support for the upcoming 12th biannual International Conference of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group. (iMig)

We are pleased to continue to sponsor the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig 2014) when it convenes in Capetown, South Africa this October, just as we did in Boston in 2012, Kyoto in 2010, Amsterdam in 2008 and Chicago in 2006.

Recently, our support for iMig has grown beyond our role as a sponsor. We were honored that four abstracts from Kazan Law were chosen for poster presentation at iMig’s 2012 Boston conference.  Ours were the only papers out of hundreds submitted for presentation that were submitted by attorneys.  The information we presented was based on 20 years of experience with asbestos trust funds and 40 years representing asbestos victims. As we focus on the fight for justice for each of our clients, the entirety of our discoveries in this process brings to light implications which we believe are of benefit to the greater good of all mesothelioma cases. It was a privilege to share them.  You can see a three-minute video of me explaining their significance here.

iMig is comprised of independent international scientists and clinicians with the mission of working to understand, cure and prevent mesothelioma.  The iMig conference is one of the most important meetings where scientific information on finding greater treatment solutions for mesothelioma is presented and discussed. Because we want to see an end to the suffering caused by mesothelioma, our firm has been a generous supporter for years. Our commitment to this cause and this conference is unwavering. We give substantially and we give early.

Four Ways the Affordable Care Act Can Help With Mesothelioma Treatment

Affordable Care ActIf you need mesothelioma treatment, the Affordable Care Act may be a way to help you get the care you need now and for the future.  Unless of course, the foes of providing health care for all Americans succeed in taking it away.

As of this writing, the Affordable Care Act also known as the ACA, still stands.  (It is also known as Obamacare because President Obama has become so identified with his firm support for this measure.)  So if you are in need of mesothelioma treatment, the ACA may offer the best way for you to get it.

But you need to get going.  According to the federal government’s own website HealthCare.gov you need to enroll by February 15 for coverage starting March 1.  Also:

  • Open enrollment ends March 31.
  • If you haven’t enrolled in coverage by then, you generally can’t buy health coverage until the next open enrollment period for coverage the following year.
  • If you don’t have health coverage during 2014, you may have to pay a penalty.

Here are four reasons from the American Cancer Society why the Affordable Care Act can help you with mesothelioma treatment:

1) More cancer survivors can now get care – The program provides immediate access to coverage for people in every state who have been uninsured for six months or more and have cancer or another pre-existing condition.

2) No more “doughnut holes” – The ACA is finally closing the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole”.  Immediately after enactment, the law provided a $250 rebate to seniors who hit the coverage gap in Medicare’s prescription drug program.  In addition, Medicare beneficiaries will receive discounts on brand-name drugs next year.

3) The well won’t run dry – Health plans will be banned from setting lifetime dollar limits on coverage, ensuring that people with cancer have access to needed care throughout their lifetimes. Annual dollar limits on coverage will be tightly restricted for most plans and will be eliminated altogether in 2014. Patients will no longer have to put off treatments waiting for the new plan year to start.

4) In sickness and in health – Just like marriage, your health plan now takes a vow to you when they take your business.  As of this week, health insurers will be barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick.  In other words, you can’t lose your insurance for developing mesothelioma.

Major reforms to health care can seem confusing and even overwhelming. The American Cancer Society has a staff of trained experts available to answer questions 24 hours a day at 800.227.2345. Also check the government’s website for help and sign-up information.

The debate on reforming health care is far from over, but these four real-world benefits alone can have a positive impact on mesothelioma patients, bringing us all one big step closer to access to affordable,  health care for all Americans.

Gratitude and Scientific News from the University of Chicago’s Mesothelioma Research Program

mesothelioma researchEven though I have been a mesothelioma attorney for many years, I never get used to the heartbreak of each and every one of my mesothelioma clients.  As I get to know each client and their families, they become more than clients.  Each becomes a face I will never forget; a suffering human being who came into my life near the premature end of theirs to seek help and justice.  And even though I am a mesothelioma attorney, my biggest wish is that there would be no more mesothelioma clients.  No more suffering and pain to individuals and their families from the callously negligent exposure to asbestos from the mesothelioma client’s employer.

That is why I also closely follow medical mesothelioma research and have our firm’s charitable foundation financially support mesothelioma research that someday will help to prolong their lives.

In 2006, I was in Chicago attending a meeting of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group.  One of the speakers was a key mesothelioma medical researcher from the prestigious University of Chicago medical school.  Hedy Lee Kindler MD is a top international cancer expert and one of the best around for mesothelioma.  In fact, she is the director of the Mesothelioma Research Program at the University of Chicago and a recent president of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group.

I spoke with Dr. Kindler who was also treating several of our clients. I was so impressed with the novel approaches she and her team were taking and decided to recommend to our Board of Directors that we financially support their work through the firm’s charitable foundation. And every year, I receive a wonderful summary of the research that contribution is helping to fund.

Dr. Kindler and her colleague Dr. Ravi Salgia now are evaluating a signaling pathway – molecules that kickstart cell activity – which appears to play a pivotal role in cell growth in malignant mesothelioma. Their goal of blocking this pathway could prove to be crucial to developing new mesothelioma therapies.

Other researchers in the program are carrying out studies using over 100 mesothelioma tissue samples and cells from the University of Chicago’s Thoracic Tumor Bank.  These studies also will help clarify how specific pathways get activated in mesothelioma and how genetically-engineered drugs can target them.

“The opportunities in our clinical research program to deliver focused targeted therapies give us confidence that we will play a critical role in improving survival and outcomes for mesothelioma patients. Your partnership continues to help us achieve our shared vision,” states my annual thank you letter.

I am proud to be part of that vision.

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