Financial assistance for cancer treatmentsBy Carla Paras-Sison, Dr. Cecile Montales |Dr. Cecile Montales, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Among the great challenges for the newly diagnosed is finding funds to complete the recommended treatment. The more severe the condition, the higher the cost of treatment.
There is a cure. But many cannot afford treatment on their own.
Following are possible sources of financial assistance, and details on how to access help.
Department of Health (DoH)
The DoH recently launched the Breast Cancer Medicine Access Program that offers financially challenged patients diagnosed with breast cancer stages 1 to 3A free chemotherapy from beginning to end. The patient should be Philhealth-subscribed or endorsed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Final screening for patients to be qualified is done by the patient navigators of Philippine Cancer Society.
The free treatment is for anyone in the country who meets the screening requirements, but the chemotherapy can only be administered in the following Metro Manila hospitals: East Avenue Medical Center, José Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital and Rizal Medical Center.
This is a pilot program which the DoH hopes to expand. This is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Call 9273492 for more information. Patients living outside Metro Manila may also inquire about temporary housing while seeking treatment in Manila.
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Andres Soriano Foundation, and Philippine General Hospital
Prepare the following:
1. Profile of patient, diagnosis (original or certified true copy of medical abstract and histopathology or biopsy results), history, plan of treatment/doctor’s report with his name, signature and license number.
2. Names of medication needed (prescription of all drugs signed by the medical officer with his/her license number) and prices (include source of price information).
3. Letter of request for financial assistance from the patient.
4. Photocopy of identification card with latest picture of the requesting person with his/her signature on the back.
The patient must present these original documents when applying for assistance. Letters may be addressed to any of the following:
Margarita P. Juico, chair, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave., Quezon City
Visit their site for more information: http://www.pcso.gov.ph
Lemia Simbulan, executive director, Andres Soriano Foundation, Andrew Ave., Pasay City, 1300
Tel. 8340874, 8319941, 8340872
Dr. Jorge Ignacio, chair, Cancer Institute, Philippine General Hospital, Taft Ave., Manila
Tel. 5218400 ext. 3928 or 4100, 5266953
The patient may write the offices of senators and representatives who may have funds in public hospitals reserved for patients requiring confinement. Go to their offices at the Senate (GSIS Headquarters, Financial Center, Roxas Blvd., Quezon City) or the House of Representatives (Constitution Hills, Quezon City) with the documents listed above.
Pink for Life and Soroptimist Ortigas
Some civic organizations also provide assistance specifically to Stage 1 and 2 breast cancer patients.
Prepare the following:
1. Pathology report
2. Complete patient details (name, postal address, landline, cell phone number)
3. List of prescribed medicines (chemotherapy agents)
To apply for assistance with Pink for Life Foundation, fax the requirements listed above to 6365578, or e-mail (as JPG or PDF file) firstname.lastname@example.org. To apply for assistance with Soroptimist Ortigas, e-mail the requirements listed above to email@example.com.
PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.) has benefits for members.
To enable the hospital to deduct PhilHealth benefits from the hospital bill, fill out PhilHealth Claim Form 1 and submit to the hospital billing section prior to discharge of the patient. Submit official receipts of medicines bought outside the hospital during confinement for possible refund. The hospital and doctors are supposed to deduct the benefits from the total bill before payment. If you pay the full amount for professional fees (that is, the doctor does not deduct any PhilHealth benefits), ask for a Waiver and attach doctor’s Waiver and the official receipt for professional fee to Claim Form 1. Submit also your Member Data Record (MDR) to support your Claim Form.
The claim must be filed with PhilHealth within 60 calendar days from discharge of the patient from the hospital, or within 60 calendar days from first treatment (first day of radiotherapy, first day of chemotherapy). Claims may be filed at the PhilHealth branch nearest the member’s residence or place of work.
Visit the PhilHealth website www.philhealth.gov.ph to learn more.
Social Security System (SSS)
The Social Security System (SSS) also has benefits for members.
To avail of sickness benefits, you must notify the SSS or your employer within five days from the day you miss work or are confined to your home. However, this does not apply when you are confined in a hospital.
For hospital confinement, the claim for benefit must be filed within one year from the last day of confinement from the hospital. For home confinement, the claim for reimbursement by the employer must be filed within one year from the start of illness. Failure to file the claim within the prescribed period will result in denial of the claim.
To download forms for sickness benefits, go to the relevant page on the SSS website http://www.sss.gov.ph/sss/
Application forms of disability benefits are filed at the nearest SSS branch or representative office. You will be called in for physical examination by an SSS doctor. This can be done on the same day of submission of documents if the doctor is available at the time of your visit.
Person with Disability (PWD) card
As a chronic illness requiring continuous monitoring and treatment, cancer is classified as a disability, and cancer patients/survivors are counted among persons with disabilities (PWDs). PWDs are qualified by law to receive benefits (privileges and incentives) under Republic Act 7277 (Magna Carta for Disabled Persons), as amended by RA 9442 (An act amending R.A. 7277) and its implementing rules and regulations.
To avail of benefits, get your PWD card from your local government unit’s Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO), or if none has been established in your area, look for the Department of Social Welfare and Development office in your city or town. Look for the person-in-charge of PWDs.
Bring the following:
1. Three pieces 1×1 ID picture
2. Medical abstract duly signed by your attending physician
Fill out the form the DSWD or PDAO personnel will provide. Check “chronic illness” in space asking for “Type of Disability.” A social worker will usually conduct a short interview and assess your case.
The following will be issued to you as a qualified PWD:
1. Disability card with your picture and duly signed by the mayor of your locality
2. Purchase booklet for medicines
3. Purchase booklet for basic commodities
Your PWD benefits will cease upon reaching the age of 60, by which time you are qualified for the senior citizen card and even more benefits, depending on where you reside.
For additional information on the PWD card, you may visit the website of the National Council on Disability Affairs at www.ncda.gov.ph.
Visit ICanServe website pages http://www.icanservefoundation.org/
?page_id=177 and http://www.icanservefoundation.org/?page_id=62 for possible sources of financial assistance and other services available to breast cancer patients.
Tip: Some private medical insurance suspend payments on the premium for a year or two for their subscribers diagnosed with cancer. Please check with your insurance company.