What to Expect
Financial concerns can arise at many points in the cancer journey. The types of concerns you may have will depend on your personal situation, the timing of your diagnosis, and the length of your treatment plan. Everyone is different. There are, however, some common challenges that occur with cancer patients:
Most people (not all) with a new cancer diagnosis find they take time off of work at some point. This may simply mean taking a short or extended leave of absence or having to leave work entirely. It depends on the type of work you do and the way your illness may impact your ability to work. If you have a flexible job, you may be able to work from home or reduce your hours. Don’t rush the decision to stop or reduce work. Wait until you have discussed your treatment with your oncologist and understand how the treatment will impact your work situation.
Work or Education Program Eligibility
If you are currently on Employment Insurance, in a provincial work or education program, receiving a post-secondary study grant, or if you are a sponsored immigrant, you may need to consider how your illness may impact your continued eligibility. There may be reporting requirements or adjustments to your program that need to be considered.
If you reduce hours or take leave from your job, you could experience changes to your income. How much depends on whether you are eligible for federal Employment Insurance and whether you have any additional disability benefits through your employer or an insurance plan. You will also need to anticipate a potential gap between when you first apply for benefits and when you receive your first payment. This gap can be anywhere from 2-6 weeks.
Paying the Employer Share of Benefits
If you have benefits linked to your employment (e.g. health plan, prescription coverage, disability, maternity leave), and you take time off of your job for an extended period, you may have to pay the employer’s monthly contribution as well as your own to keep the benefits going. If, and when you do will depend on your employer’s policies.
After your diagnosis, there will most likely be paperwork you will need to fill out for your insurance benefits, employment leave, prescription coverage, etc. Don’t get overwhelmed! This tool will help explain some of the paperwork you may face and the people that can help walk you through it.
Minor Costs that Add Up
You may be worried about the overall “cost” of cancer treatment. The cost of physician and hospital services are covered under universal health care and you will not pay for these services directly. What you will be responsible to pay for are those items that do not fall under universal health care – e.g. prescription drugs, physiotherapy, travel to/from treatment, supportive or prosthetic devices, etc. These small amounts can add up over time. If you have a private health care plan, federal health benefits (e.g. NIHBNon-Insured Health Benefits Program for First Nations and Inuit Peoples, VA, IFH) or a provincial drug plan, some of these items may be covered.