The Effectiveness of Healthcare Professional Training on the Legal Issues Impacting Individuals Diagnosed with Cancer to Improve Patient Quality of Life

November 2020 Vol 11, No 11
Monica Fawzy Bryant, Esq, COO
Triage Cancer, Chicago, IL
Madison McMahon Ward, MPH
Triage Cancer
Chicago, IL
Joanna Fawzy Morales, Esq, CEO
Triage Cancer, Chicago, IL

A cancer diagnosis may carry with it a variety of legal issues, including insurance coverage, government benefits, and consumer rights. Additionally, cancer care is expensive, and with inadequate insurance coverage, cancer survivors have higher out-of-pocket costs even years after diagnosis. Oncology healthcare professionals are well-positioned to help navigate these issues and mitigate the financial impact of cancer across the continuum of care. Stories of lost jobs, damaged credit, bankruptcy, eviction, overwhelming medical debt, and huge amounts of stress, anxiety, and depression after a cancer diagnosis are common. By the time individuals seek help, they are in crisis. But with appropriate information and guidance, many of these crises are preventable.

However, there is a gap in formal education related to health and disability insurance and finances. Healthcare professionals themselves indicate a gap in understanding and lack of awareness of relevant resources.

To address this gap in knowledge, The Insurance & Finance Intensive was created. The Insurance & Finance Intensive focused on providing healthcare professionals with tools to proactively identify the presence of cancer-related legal, health insurance, and financial issues facing their patients. Additionally, the training helped healthcare professionals to offer referrals to appropriate legal and related resources, once those issues are identified. Topics covered included an overview of the US healthcare system, individual and employer-sponsored health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, tips on using health insurance and appeals, navigating disability insurance and appeals, and managing finances and getting financial help. Case studies and interactive group exercises are used to help healthcare professionals implement the learning.

Since its inception in 2017 through April 2020, The Insurance & Finance Intensive has been provided 18 times nationwide. More than 800 oncology healthcare professionals have participated in the 8-hour comprehensive training. Attendees were provided substantive information about cancer-related legal issues, such as identifying health insurance options, navigating disability insurance and appeals, and managing finances. A follow-up survey was sent to all past intensive attendees to measure the effectiveness of the training and to address any lingering questions and difficult case studies. Ninety-four percent of survey respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the information provided by the training helped them reduce the stress and anxiety of their patients and their families. Ninety-two percent of survey respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the information provided by the training improved the quality of life of their patients and their families.

When individuals understand how to obtain and keep health insurance, appeal denials, take time off work, access disability insurance, and manage other financial stressors, their quality of life and survivorship outcomes improve. Effectively training oncology healthcare professionals to better navigate patients through these issues alleviates the financial burden of cancer and improves patients’ quality of life. It is recommended that more healthcare professionals participate in this training to improve the quality of life of their patients beyond diagnosis.

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Last modified: August 10, 2023

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