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Financial Assistance and Resources for Mesothelioma

A mesothelioma diagnosis places substantial emotional and financial stress on the patient and their loved ones. The aggressive disease directly linked to asbestos exposure typically requires various expensive tests, surgeries, and treatment therapies like chemotherapy and radiation.

Additional costs can include special accommodations, lost wages, and interest charges that continue to compound on loans or lines of credit.

Being diagnosed with mesothelioma is devastating for the patient and their loved ones. Bills can add up quickly, presenting additional challenges for the family during an emotionally stressful event.

Fortunately, there are a variety of resource options that help mesothelioma patients with travel accommodations, emotional and end of life support, as well as financial assistance.

What Is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare, malignant disease caused by the formation of asbestos fibers in the lining of the lungs, heart, or abdomen. Symptoms such as chest pain, coughing, and shortness of breath are similar to other common, less serious illnesses and can take decades to appear.

There is no known cure, and the life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is usually less than a year after being diagnosed.

The four types of mesothelioma are identified by where the tumors develop in the body — the lungs, heart, abdomen, and testicles. Pleural and peritoneal are the most common mesothelioma types, with pericardial and testicular mesothelioma each accounting for just 1% of cases.

The prognosis, symptoms, and treatment options will vary depending on the type and stage of mesothelioma.

Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma tumors attach to the protective lining of the lungs. The pleura is the most common location for mesothelioma to occur, with about 75% of cases diagnosed as pleural.

There are also more treatment options for patients with pleural mesothelioma than the other types of the disease. Multimodal treatment options for pleural mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the abdomen’s protective lining, which contains several vital organs, including the stomach, intestines, kidneys, and liver. Less than a quarter of all mesotheliomas are peritoneal.

This form of mesothelioma is a buildup of abdominal cavity fluid and the thickening of the abdomen lining. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, weight l

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma affects the heart’s protective lining and accounts for about 1% of all mesothelioma cases. Because pericardial mesothelioma is rare and symptoms resemble those of other heart conditions, diagnosis and treatment are more challenging than pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma.

Prognosis is typically poor for patients with pericardial mesothelioma — half of pericardial mesothelioma patients die within six months of being diagnosed.

Testicular Mesothelioma

Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest type of mesothelioma and forms on the testes membrane lining. Also referred to as mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis testis, testicular mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose and is often mistaken for a more benign medical condition, such as a hernia.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Asbestos is a natural mineral found in rocks and soil. Asbestos fibers are exceptionally resistant to water, chemicals, and heat. For years, manufacturers applied the durable, flexible, and versatile mineral for various uses and applications, from residential and commercial construction to textiles and auto parts.

The problem is that asbestos fibers separate easily into tiny pieces when damaged or simply handled. Breathing in asbestos can result in the microscopic fibers building up in your lungs and causing severe health problems. It can take years or even decades following asbestos exposure to get diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos at a factory or manufacturing job or serving in the military. Around 80% of mesothelioma patients have had some sort of exposure to asbestos in the past.

The primary risk factors for getting mesothelioma include:

  • Working at an asbestos processing plant or asbestos mine;
  • Having worked in the construction industry;
  • Having served in the military on ships or facilities that contained asbestos;
  • Living near an asbestos mine or contaminated site;
  • Exposure from renovation projects without taking proper safety measures.

It can take decades after asbestos exposure for mesothelioma to develop in the body and be diagnosed, and most people live less than a year after being diagnosed.

Veterans and Mesothelioma

The United States military’s widespread use of asbestos throughout the 20th century has led veterans to have a far higher risk of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases than the general public.

Many of the companies that used asbestos in their products continued to use the material well after being informed of its potential hazards and neglected to inform service members and employees of the risks.

In the years and decades that followed, thousands of veterans and workers have been diagnosed and died from debilitating and life-threatening asbestos diseases like mesothelioma.

Costs of Mesothelioma Care

Monthly bills for mesothelioma patients can average over $10,000 a month. The total cost of mesothelioma care varies depending on the patient’s health care provider, insurance coverage, and individual treatment needs and preferences.

The costs of treatment and care for a mesothelioma patient may include:

  • Imaging;
  • Surgeries;
  • Prescription medication;
  • Chemotherapy;
  • Radiation;
  • Travel and accommodation expenses for ongoing doctors’ appointments and checkups;
  • Caregiver;
  • Lost income.

The costs of mesothelioma care and treatment are often passed onto those responsible for exposing the patient to asbestos. Compensation settlements are arranged through asbestos claims and lawsuits.

Mesothelioma and Asbestos Claims, Legal Compensation, Settlements, and Lawsuits

The manufacturers of asbestos knowingly used the hazardous mineral and concealed the dangers for decades.

It has been a half-century since the corporate negligence that kept the asbestos industry thriving stopped, and companies must be held responsible for their actions. Workers, service members, and others exposed to the carcinogenic material continue to get sick and die from mesothelioma.

Suing the companies that produced and installed asbestos without disclosing the potential dangers is common for mesothelioma patients and their families. Lawsuits help cover the ongoing costs of treatment and health care. Due to the cause and nature of the illness, asbestos-related court proceedings typically favor mesothelioma victims.

Most class action or individual asbestos lawsuits settle without delay or obstruction. Respected and experienced law firms throughout the country specialize in easing the burden of a mesothelioma diagnosis by facilitating a quick settlement to provide as much comfort as possible to the patient and their loved ones.

Medical Insurance and Other Aid

Health insurance can help mesothelioma patients alleviate some of the financial expenses associated with their diagnosis. The patient’s chosen health insurance plan often dictates the treatment options available to them when needed.

It is essential to understand your health insurance policy to get the best care possible for you or a loved one diagnosed with mesothelioma.

The following are examples of the types of insurance and other forms of aid that can help defray or cover the costs of treatment and care of mesothelioma patients.

  • Government-funded programs:The U.S. government offers various financial assistance resources for people with severe illnesses like mesothelioma.
  • VA medical claims:Service members in all military branches were unknowingly exposed to asbestos as recently as a generation ago. Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma can file a claim with the Veterans Administration (VA) for compensation.
  • Medicaid/Medicare:You may qualify for Medicare or Medicaid benefits to cover mesothelioma care expenses if you are not able to work and cannot afford to pay for private health insurance. Government-sponsored programs offer benefits for eligible senior citizens, people with limited income, and those with disabilities.
  • Social Security benefits:Patients with a pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis that prevents them from working may be eligible to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Benefits may also be fast-tracked through a Compassionate Allowances Program designed to help those with serious illnesses quickly.
  • Private insurance:An active policy through a private health insurance company can help offset medical expenses resulting from a mesothelioma diagnosis.
  • If your health insurance plan is through your job and you are no longer able to work, you can typically continue coverage for a limited time with a higher premium.

Other Assistance Programs

  • General assistance: Several organizations and groups specifically dedicated to offering valuable assistance to mesothelioma patients and their families can help with various needs. Mesothelioma patients find assistance, peace, and comfort with cancer support resources that include food services, seeing-eye dogs, travel arrangements, and wish-fulfillment programs.
  • Drug and prescription assistance:Drug costs for cancer patients are expensive and continue to rise. Programs like NeedyMeds and the Partnership for Prescription Assistance offer mesothelioma patients relief from the burden of recurring drug costs.
  • Housing and travel for patients and family:Some mesothelioma patients travel long distances to visit a top mesothelioma doctor or cancer center to get the best care quickly. Transportation and accommodation expenses for the patient, their family, and needed caregivers can be costly, especially when multiple trips are required. Specialized programs like the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery and Hope Lodges help mitigate secondary costs for cancer patients and their loved ones.
  • Local funding/incentive programs for asbestos abatement:Eligible individuals and new home and commercial property developers in some states can receive a tax credit to help cover the costs of asbestos abatement services. The State of New York, for example, offers a 20% credit for asbestos remediation from buildings at least 25 years old.
  • Clinical trials:Ongoing cancer treatment research depends on clinical trials to help doctors create new and better ways to treat mesothelioma patients. Participating in clinical trials allows mesothelioma patients early access to the latest treatment efforts without the additional expense associated with existing drugs and treatments.

Even with the assistance of programs and services that help defray the costs of treatment and care for mesothelioma, many families are left with substantial financial responsibilities after their loved one passes away from the disease.

Financial Recovery After Mesothelioma Diagnosis/Treatment

A mesothelioma diagnosis typically results in months of expensive treatment and care that can often lead to substantial debt for the patient and their family.

Even if you are insured, ongoing medication, procedures, and other treatment expenses can leave you and your loved ones with the financial burden of medical debt that may take years for a full recovery.

After diagnosis, the steps a mesothelioma patient experiences can be painful and debilitating, and devastating for loved ones to observe.

Understandably, financial obligations are not treated as a priority as the disease advances towards its inevitable conclusion. However, unpaid medical bills and other expenses will only compound problems now and in the future.

If you are left responsible for unpaid medical expenses that affect your credit rating, it may take time to repair your credit and restore your financial health.

Consider finding a credit repair specialist that can help you improve your credit score, which will give you more flexibility and make you less of a risk to lenders.