Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hospital Helps Cancer Patients with Co-Pays Staff Works with Aid Programs

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hospital Helps Cancer Patients with Co-Pays Staff Works with Aid Programs

Article excerpt

When a patient at Monongahela Valley Hospital's cancer center couldn't afford to pay the insurance co-pay for chemotherapy, workers there knew they had to help.

That was eight years ago, and since that time, the staff at the hospital's Charles L. and Rose Sweeney Melenyzer Pavilion and Regional Cancer Center have helped nearly 1,000 cancer patients pay for part of their treatment.

In the past three years, the center's staff has arranged for patients to receive more than $1.6 million in co-pay assistance and free chemotherapy prescriptions. In the first two months of 2015, the center has helped 25 patients.

"It was pretty much because of that one person," said Rhea Regul, a medical secretary at the cancer center along with oncology supervisor Bonny Holmes.

In an effort to help that patient eight years ago, Ms. Holmes said, she "began researching programs that would offer some financial assistance. We were able to have that patient placed in a program and we have been helping our patients ever since."

"When a person comes to us for care, we get to know them. There's a trust built," said Corinne Laboon, hospital spokeswoman. That trust enables the patients to be completely honest with staff and let them know they may not be able to afford their chemotherapy treatment co-pay, she said.

"There's a lot of help out there for patients," Ms. Regul said, adding chemotherapy drugs can run "in the thousands of dollars" for one treatment.

Ms. Regul said many of their patients have some type of Medicare plan.

"They have to pay a maximum of $6,700 out of pocket" before Medicare will pay anything, she said. It doesn't take long to reach that amount, she said.

Ms. Regul said patients coming to the center for treatment may not be able to pay for even one treatment, let alone the more than $6,000 deductible. That's when she and the staff at the center offer their services to help find an organization that can help offset some of those costs. …

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