Legal Impacts of Cancer
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has several protections for cancer survivors who are employed or seeking jobs. Know your rights to make sure you’re not being discriminated against because of your health status.
- You cannot be denied a job based on your cancer history.
- Job applicants are not required to tell prospective employers if they’ve had cancer.
- Employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees with cancer.
Financial Impacts of Cancer
Cancer treatment can be very expensive, even if you have health insurance. For many cancer survivors, the cost of diagnosis and treatment can have a lasting financial impact. Here are some of the financial issues faced by cancer survivors:
- Cancer treatment costs not covered by insurance and other out-of-pocket payments can result in significant debt that lasts long after treatment has ended.
- Survivors who can no longer work will lose health, disability and life insurance benefits provided by their employer.
- Difficulty finding a job that offers health, disability and life insurance benefits.
- Some insurance companies may not pay for cancer treatments that they consider experimental, such as treatments done as part of a clinical trial.
- Patients who receive treatment outside their hometown or state face additional costs of travel, lodging, meals and other living expenses.
Explore the following options to help ease any financial issues you may have as a cancer survivor.
Medical coverage: Explore Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for insurance coverage options.
Income alternatives: Look into Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to see if you qualify.
Life insurance: Your policy may be a source of cash or used to obtain a loan. Keep your insurance policy if you leave your job. Some life insurance companies offer an accelerated death benefit with a pre-death payment. You also may be able to sell your life insurance policy for a portion of its value.
Retirement plans: Your employee pension or retirement savings plan might be a source of cash and a way to fund disability income. Read your employee benefits book to find out if this is an option. Retirement funds may be available if you are still employed and meet your plan’s hardship provisions.
Advance Care Planning
It’s important that your family knows your wishes in case you become unable to make health care decisions for yourself. Completing advance directives is one way for you to make your wishes known about medical treatment.
Make sure you have the following legal documents:
Medical Power of Attorney: This form allows you to appoint a trusted relative or friend to oversee your health care if you become unable to do so.
Living Will: This document allows you to specify treatment instructions for doctors and loved ones if you can no longer communicate them yourself.
Out of Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate (OOHDNR): This form instructs paramedics, doctors and other health care professionals to NOT perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) when your heart and/or lungs stop working. DNR orders vary by state.
Last Will and Testament: A will details how you want your possessions and assets distributed after you are deceased. You can either write your own will or have your attorney draw it up.