How much it costs (to have breast cancer)

So here’s a post for the personal finance bloggers out there: How much does it cost to have breast cancer? I’m not talking pain and suffering or other qualitative costs, though I’m sure that there’s an actuarial formula somewhere that puts a price on the loss of a breast, on the loss of fertility, on quality of life lost due to chemo, etc. Instead I’m looking only at overt fiscal costs.

Since the call-back mammogram on March 6, I have had 63 (…..let’s just pause for a moment and appreciate that number: sixty-three……) appointments related to breast cancer: 28 in March, 25 in April and 10 in May to date.

My out of-pocket-costs so far total $3258.50:

Copays: $415 ($65 HMO, $170 PPO, $180 2nd opinion outside insurance, reduced down from $360)

Prescriptions: $225.98 ($123.98 HMO & $102 PPO)

Supplements, etc:$234.64

Dining out due to timing of doc’s appts: $93.72

Mileage; $126 (rough, assumes 10 miles round trip per appt at the federal mileage rate of 20 cents/mile)

Equipment costs: $363.15 (digital voice recorder for docs appts, replacement cell phone when mine got damaged and went out in the middle of an oncologist’s call, 3500 extra cell phone minutes)

Loss of income: $1800 – I went down to 20 hours/week, and my income went down accordingly. Now, as a nonprofit professional, I don’t make that much, but the income loss amounts to approx. $600 out of pocket per month. And we have no disability insurance.

And then there’s the fact that with my new PPO insurance, which started April 1, there are deductibles and a cap which I still have to reach: $250 deductible, and a cap of $1250, for a total of $1500. I haven’t received any actual bills yet. So that’s a scary thing, and new, as I don’t understand what those bills will look like.

I don’t even know what the 10% “co-insurance” fee is. And if I’ll still have to pay copays once that max is reached. My guess is that I’ll still have to pay for prescriptions, but only ones that I fill in pharmacy. Thank goodness there’s no copay for chemo drug administering, after hours calls, nurse triage calls, etc. The only copays that I know to expect are for office visits.

Plus then there are the costs incurred by friends and family – mileage to and from Eugene, 3 times; mileage to and from Kirkland, 5 times. Extra phone minutes for them. The times they bought me groceries; the donated wigs, the donations of hair dressing time, the gifts of scarves, and flowers, and gift certificates, and book after book.

There are also the nonprofit professional services that have been donated – five counseling appointments through the Ruth J Spears Breast Center, a chemo 101 education appt through Cancer Cares, the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Good program (for which I gave most of the product away, it had way too many chemicals in it), etc.

So wish me luck with my applications for cancer-related financial assistance this month. More on that later.



Filed under breast cancer, costs

2 responses to “How much it costs (to have breast cancer)

  1. Susan Walden

    I have been looking for just such information. I am writing a graduate paper on chemicals in the environment and cancer. One possibility that chemicals that cause cancer are not regulated or banned is all the money the drug and health insurance make off of cancer. I think it would be helpful not only to have out-of-pocket expenses, but the entire cost.
    Thank you for sharing the information, and I wish you all the luck in the world

  2. Hi Susan, not quite sure how to define entire costs. A narrow definition would = my costs + full pmt by insurance company to provider.

    When I was diagnosed I was with an HMO, so I don’t have access to those bills. I switched insurance and do have access to the chemo and radiation bills, part of which I wrote up in another post about how much radiation costs.

    I’d love to see your paper when it’s done!

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