At Children’s Hosptial and Regional Medical Center (CHRMC), every BMT patient family will meet with a financial coordinator to discuss coverage available for their child’s transplant, and to work on making a plan for meeting uncovered expenses.
Children’s offers its own financial assistance program for patients who are residents of WA, AK, ID, or MT, including those who have health insurance. Eligibility for the program is based on financial need, and is meant to cover care in the CHRMC hospital and clinics, and related physician fees. An application for the Children’s Financial Assistance Program may be downloaded from the website.
Families can also make arrangements for creating payment plans for the outstanding balance on medical bills. Income-eligible WA families may also apply Washington’s Charity Care Program , which covers hospital care for those earning under or up to 100% of the Federal Poverty Level, or allows for a sliding fee scale for charges for certain families with higher incomes, based on medical expenses and family circumstances. Applications for the state Charity Care Program are available at CHRMC, or may be obtained from the Washington Law Help website of the Northwest Justice Project. Follow the links under Health > Obtaining medical coverage and getting help with medical bills. See also the Uninsured Children and Resources pages.
Contact the following organizations to learn more about special funds that may be available to help cover some of the expenses of a BMT from an unrelated donor :
Patient Assistance Fund of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, WA/AK Chapter
Offers reimbursement of up to $500 per calendar year for out-of-pocket patient expenses related to treatment for leukemia, lymphomas, and certain other blood disorders and related diseases. Contact LLS WA/AK Chapter office for details and application.
Some children undergoing BMT will be eligible for Medicaid, a federal medical assistance program, administered by each state, for qualifying low-income children who are citizens and, under certain special circumstances, for some immigrant and refugee children (there is a separate Medicaid program for adults). In addition, Washington is one of several states that enroll children who have been hospitalized for 30 days in the state children’s Medicaid program, regardless of family income. Many WA children undergoing BMT at CHRMC will qualify for this benefit. This special coverage lasts for a year, at which time coverage will be reviewed. Medicaid also includes coverage for transportation and prescription drug costs, and additional services for children with special health needs. If your child also has other insurance, a determination will be made as to whether that plan or Medicaid is the primary and which the secondary payer and the benefits will be coordinated. You will be given full information about Medicaid coverage for your child by the Financial Services staff at CHRMC or by your child’s BMT social worker.
At the age of 18, young people with special health care needs become eligible for the adult Medicaid program, based on their own, not their family’s income. The BMT social worker or the CHRMC financial office can assist you with the application process for this as well.
ALERT: Hill-Burton Program
Families should note that although they may see this program listed on other websites as a resource, the Hill-Burton program should NOT be considered a source of help any longer for specialty care like cancer treatments or BMT. The Hill-Burton program was created by the federal government after WWII to address a serious shortage of hospitals nationwide. Funds were provided to build or remodel hospitals on the condition that they would provide a proportionate amount of free or reduced price care to patients in need in their own communities. It took the efforts of healthcare advocates in the ‘60s and ‘70s to ensure this provision was upheld. The Hill-Burton program ended in 1997 and there are now few facilities that have any remaining community service obligations. In WA, only two nursing homes for adults and one community health clinic have any remaining obligation. The Hill-Burton program website contains nationwide listings of the reamining obligated facilities.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Children. SSI is a federal program that provides some financial assistance to children under the age of 18, whose families have low incomes and limited assets, and who have serious illnesses or health conditions that affect their everyday activities. (Upon reaching age 18, only the child’s income is considered for adult SSI program). To qualify, children must also meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability for children. Your child’s social worker can tell you more about applying to SSI for your child. The SSA has a website on SSI for Children.
Income Tax Deduction for Medical-Related Expenses
Some families may be able to get budget relief by utilizing the federal Income Tax Deduction for Medical-Related Expenses. However, this deduction is only available to taxpayers who itemize their deductions AND whose allowed expenses in this category are more than 7.5% of their gross adjusted income .This deduction is for payments that have been made, not for charges that are owed.
Some BMT patient families may have sufficient expenses to be able to take this deduction. In general, the IRS allows deductions for medical and dental expenses, and lists specific allowed and disallowed medical and dental expenses. Typically deductions are permitted for payment of medical bills and insurance premiums and other insurance costs; for meals and lodging related to medical care (with a specific dollar amount permitted for lodging); for transportation costs (including some mileage costs, parking fees, all forms of commerical transport); assistive devices including eyeglasses and hearing aids, certain special services, and more. It is important to keep receipts or other proof of payment for all claimed expenses. For complete details on this topic, please refer to IRS Publication 502.