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Medicare & Cancer Treatment

Most cancers (nearly 6 out of 10) are first diagnosed after the age of 65.  The common misconception is that if you have Original Medicare and a Medicare Supplement or even a Medicare Advantage plan, everything is covered in full.  Those who have been there can tell you that there are several things wrong with that picture.

First, a high percentage (as much as 65%) of the out-of-pocket costs patients and their families face are indirect costs that are not paid by Medicare, a Medicare Supplement, or a Medicare Advantage plan at all.  These costs include but are not limited to transportation for out-of-town or even out-of-state treatment, your meals and lodging for your own outpatient treatment, and/or meals and lodging for those accompanying you when you have inpatient care.  Cancer treatment is not a simple trip to the local emergency room.

Second, Medicare Advantage plans do not always handle cancer treatment exactly the way Original Medicare does.  Some expenses – sometimes huge expenses – that Original Medicare covers can be excluded by Medicare Advantage plans.

Third, some very expensive medications that were covered by Part B of Medicare have been shifted to Part D of Medicare.  What this means is that if a person doesn’t have a Prescription Drug Plan, he would suddenly be responsible for 100% of those charges.  Even if a person does have a Prescription Drug Plan, the expenses would certainly push the person into the coverage gap (“donut hole”) and through to the catastrophic level.

The bottom line is that medicare-eligible persons should seriously consider purchasing a separate Cancer insurance policy.  These plans pay cash benefits directly to the insured, and the person could have the cash flow needed for the mountain of out-of-pocket bills he will most certainly face.