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Can You Get Financial Assistance If You Have Breast Cancer?

Navigating Treatment

March 18, 2024

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Photography by Milles Studio/Stocksy United

Photography by Milles Studio/Stocksy United

by Beth Ann Mayer


Medically Reviewed by:

Faith Selchick, DNP, AOCNP


by Beth Ann Mayer


Medically Reviewed by:

Faith Selchick, DNP, AOCNP


Breast cancer treatment can be expensive, but there are many resources for financial assistance. Hospital financial navigators can help you make sense of insurance, grants, and more.

Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Your thoughts may be a jumble of wondering about your odds, how to tell family and friends, and concerns about what treatment side effects might mean for your physical and mental health.

The reality of the financial burden of treatment can also be an added stressor.

Insurance policies may ease this burden, though coverage varies. Are there other options out there for easing the burden of medical expenses?

Read on to learn about the financial resources available to people with breast cancer, and how you can access them yourself.

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Can you get financial assistance for breast cancer?

The short answer is yes, there are several financial assistance options for breast cancer.

These can include:

  • hospital-based financial assistance programs
  • nonprofits that help with living expenses
  • government programs
  • clinical trials
  • scholarships and grants

Knowing the financial resources available can ensure you get the financial support you need.

The CDC reports that breast cancer is the most expensive cancer to treat, making up 14% of all treatment costs. The initial care phase of treatment alone can cost around $35,000. Oral medications for this phase alone can cost more than $1,000 per person.

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Resources for breast cancer financial assistance

From the hospital where you receive care to clinical trials and nonprofit programs, here’s a breakdown of resources for financial assistance with breast cancer treatment.

Legal rights

First, it’s important to know what care you’re legally entitled to.

Passed in 2010, the Affordable Care Act states that insurance companies must completely cover screening mammograms for women over 40 every 1–2 years, and cannot charge out-of-pocket costs or co-pays as long as the insured stays within the provider network.

The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program also provides low or no-cost breast cancer screenings for people without insurance or who are underinsured.

Hospital resources

Most hospitals have on-staff professionals who can get you started in the right direction. These can include financial navigators, counselors, advocates, or oncology social workers.

The terms vary, but these professionals are there to help people with cancer manage, estimate, and understand costs. They can also help you with:

  • completing insurance paperwork
  • setting up payment plans
  • identifying potential cost waivers
  • locating and applying for federal, local, or state aid
  • help with transportation, lodging, and prescription medication costs

The five-figure price tag for breast cancer treatment may be your most significant concern. Insurance may cover some, but not all costs.

You can work with a financial navigator to begin a payment plan while you explore other options to reduce your overall amount owed.

You may be able to get funds for:

  • diagnostic tests and screening, such as mammograms
  • prescription drugs
  • medical and recovery supplies
  • surgery

Clinical trials

Clinical trials offer people with breast cancer an opportunity to be a part of studies to test new interventions that could provide better or similar outcomes to the current standard treatments. 

People who participate in clinical trials may get involved for many reasons. These include:

  • getting the opportunity to try new and emerging treatments
  • learning more about their condition
  • contributing to scientific research
  • finding purpose through helping others

Clinical trials generally don’t cost a person anything, and you may receive a financial incentive or assistance covering costs for participating.

Transportation expenses

Some oncologists recommend that you get a ride to and from treatments like chemotherapy and radiation due to the potential physical and emotional toll. A hospital financial navigator can share transportation resources in your area.

Options may include:

Lodging and living expenses

A financial navigator can help you locate services like a place to stay while undergoing treatment, especially if you live far away.

Organizations like The Pink Fund offer grants to help pay for living expenses. Joe’s House has a directory of lodging options for people who need to travel to centers for care. 

Child and elder care assistance

A 2023 study indicated that about 20% of people newly diagnosed with cancer have young children, and child care is a significant barrier to treatment. Some may care for elderly family members as well.

CancerCare and Komen Financial Assistance may be able to provide aid, but there isn’t an abundance of options to offset care costs. For those who qualify, Medicare may be an option.

Scholarships for children who have lost parents/guardians to cancer

Children who have lost a parent or legal guardian to cancer may have access to financial aid in the form of scholarships. has a searchable database that provides results for terms like “breast cancer” or “parent lost to cancer.” Sometimes restrictions apply, like location, specific majors, or being affected by a certain type of cancer.

A few to consider include:

Grants for breast cancer survivors

The need for cancer support doesn’t always end if you enter remission. You may still need assistance with transportation, drug costs, and utility payments as you pay off treatment costs.

You may also be eligible for financial aid through grants even after your treatment ends, such as through the United Breast Cancer Foundation and Allyson Whitney Foundation. The latter is limited to people currently in treatment or whose treatment ended within 10 months.

How do you apply for financial support for breast cancer?

With so many options for financial aid, each with distinct requirements and applications, the process can feel like a steep hill to climb.

You’ll also want to keep geography in mind and know what various organizations offer. Leaning on the financial advisor can help you with specifics for your area.

How to find assistance by state

Some financial assistance, like scholarships and transportation services, are limited by state or even town, and it can be discouraging to find a program in which you qualify in every way except geography.

Patient advocacy groups and nonprofits, such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation, can help people with breast cancer find resources for transportation, medical costs, and testing in their area.

If you use Medicaid, you can check eligibility by state on If you use private insurance, call the provider using the number on your card or use their online database to find covered options.

If you have state insurance, your state’s Department of Health website has coverage information.

Organizations to look into

Various nonprofits can help people find assistance programs in their area. Some are nationwide and are general to all cancers. Others are limited to people with breast cancer or who reside in a particular place.

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How to get the most out of your insurance

It’s a challenge to give one-size-fits-all advice for the often convoluted process of navigating insurance.

However, it’s a good idea to learn the ins and outs of your insurance plan. You may also want to keep detailed records of bills, claims, and correspondence with healthcare and insurance providers.

Remember that health insurance can include disability insurance, which provides you with a portion of your income if you can’t work. It may also offer long-term care coverage for those unable to care for themselves. 

Learn about your insurance policy

You can learn about your insurance policy by reading the policy online or in the pamphlet you received when you signed up. However, it’s not always straightforward and easy to understand.

Resources are available to help you interpret your coverage, including:

  • your hospital’s financial navigator
  • your employer’s human resources department, if the policy is through your employer
  • the state health department, if the policy is through the state’s marketplace
  • email and phone support with your insurance provider

Keep detailed records

You’ll want to keep track of bills, coverage notices, and correspondence with your insurance company. It can be a major help to have a paper trail, especially if there’s a dispute.

To stay organized, try:

  • keeping bills and correspondence from different policies in separate, labeled folders
  • keeping detailed notes of phone calls, including the time of a call with your hospital, doctor, or insurance company, the issue, and the course of action
  • labeling written correspondence and keeping a digital and written copy

If a claim was denied and you feel it was incorrect, speak with your hospital’s financial navigator.

How to find emotional support during financial hardship

It’s important to seek support to help you navigate both the financial and emotional aspects of diagnosis and treatment.

You may be able to find support by:

  • using in-network providers through your insurance, if applicable
  • finding support groups for people with breast cancer, cancer, or chronic conditions through your hospital or organizations like the American Cancer Society
  • finding online support groups for people with breast cancer, like BezzyBC
  • seeing a therapist in training, who may offer a reduced rate
  • seeking out therapists with sliding-scale payment options
  • discussing the option of shorter or group therapy sessions at a reduced rate
  • reaching out to local groups, like churches, community or senior centers, and nonprofits
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Frequently asked questions

Read on to get the facts about financial assistance for breast cancer.

Can you get help with rent if you have cancer?

Some organizations may assist with living expenses like rent. For instance, The Pink Fund provides non-medical aid for living expenses for 90 days. A financial navigator may also help you find financial resources, including if you need lodging assistance to attend treatment in an area away from home.

Are there any benefits for breast cancer patients?

Insurance policies vary, and a financial navigator and your insurance policy can help you determine what’s covered, along with expected out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, nonprofit organizations may assist with treatment and non-medical expenses for people with breast cancer or who are in remission.

Can you get extra money if you have cancer?

You may be able to receive financial assistance through grants, scholarships, and nonprofits. Moreover, people participating in a clinical trial may receive a monetary incentive and help to cover additional transportation costs.

How do you pay for cancer treatment when you’re broke?

Cancer treatment is expensive and can be a financial burden. A hospital financial navigator can help you assess options, including payment plans and financial resources in your area.

Some organizations provide transportation, while others may provide assistance to cover treatment costs or living expenses. Insurance may cover some costs. Check with your provider to determine what your policy offers.


Breast cancer treatment can cost thousands of dollars, but resources are available to help.

Talk with the financial navigator at your hospital to help you with cost estimates and finding resources in your area.

Above all, make sure your emotional and mental health needs are met via free or low cost support groups, online communities, and sliding-scale therapy.

Medically reviewed on March 18, 2024

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About the author

Beth Ann Mayer

Beth Ann Mayer is a New York-based freelance writer and content strategist who specializes in health and parenting writing. Her work has been published in Parents, Shape, and Inside Lacrosse. She is a co-founder of digital content agency Lemonseed Creative and is a graduate of Syracuse University. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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