Medical Bills, Insurance and Uncertainty

Suleika Jaouad

Suleika Jaouad (photo by: Seamus McKiernan)

Through her blog entitled Secrets of Cancerhood, Suleika Jaouad has been sharing her battle with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This led to her regular column “Life, Interrupted” for the New York Times and expanded to include her bone marrow transplant journey.

In this week’s column, “Life, Interrupted: Medical Bills, Insurance and Uncertainty,” Suleika addresses a topic of great importance: the financial impact of treatment. She starts by talking about how, like many young adults, she had not thought much about health insurance or the particulars of her parent’s plan. She acknowledges, “the first thing I learned was how lucky I was to have health insurance at all.” But, then she goes on to describe how even with insurance covering the bulk of her care, between co-pays, premiums, and out-of-network charges, the bills have mounted. According to Suleika, “for a cancer patient like me who visits the hospital on a weekly basis (and that’s when things are going well), every few days I owe another payment.” This does not even take into account the expense of relocating in order to access necessary medical treatment or her mother’s lost income due to the hiatus from work required to manage Suleika’s insurance and care.

Every day, The Bone Marrow Foundation hears from patients or their representatives about financial struggles resulting from the transplant required to treat their cancer or genetic condition. Most apply to one or more of the Foundation’s financial assistance programs designed to help alleviate some of the stresses of transplant-related expenses. Requests are regularly submitted for assistance with expenses like co-pays, insurance premiums, housing, transportation, childcare, donor search, meals, and other basic living expenses. Unfortunately, the need always exceeds the funds available. If you would like to help provide assistance to transplant patients and their families, please visit The Bone Marrow Foundation’s website.


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About The Bone Marrow Foundation

Founded in 1992, The Bone Marrow Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bone marrow, stem cell, and cord blood transplant patients and their families by providing vital financial assistance, emotional support, and comprehensive educational programs. The Foundation is the only organization of its kind that does not limit assistance to a specific disease, type of transplant or age range.

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