Hello, I am a navigator in North Central Florida in an outpatient cancer center under a private non-profit hospital. I have encountered a couple patients who are here on visiting visas and seeking their cancer care in Florida. Our hospital offers a strict charity financial assistance program and we have a few community financial assistance grants that can help with one time grants (definitely not significant to help with cost of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy). From my experience, these patients do not qualify for assistance through our state, county or neighboring public hospital. What other options might you suggest for non-US citizens to help cover cost of care? Thank you.
We are a large academic center and run into this issue a few times a year. This situation can really be heartbreaking because you want to help, but lack the resources to do so.
We have even had cases where people have been encouraged to come to the US for their care because the perception is that we are able to provide this care. We all know that it can be a challenge to provide care for people who are citizens. I cannot think of a program that can help non-residents. Perhaps reaching out to the embassy of the home country might be helpful.
Unfortunately, international patients without valid US health insurance can run into problems accessing cancer care. People who are not US residents generally do not qualify for any government assistance unless they have special status (for example: refugees).
We refer all non-US residents to our international office where there is an intake process that includes finances. Patients without insurance are expected to pay for a majority if not all of their care upfront. People with few resources and who are unable to pay are in a horrible predicament. Under the law, we are obligated to provide emergency care, but that does not most cancer treatments.
Colleen Palay, MPH, BSN, RN, OCN
Integrated Network Cancer Program Manager
Seidman Cancer Center
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
11100 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland OH 44106
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