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Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant Frequently Asked Questions
Helpful information for patients, caregivers and families
(Bilingual Spanish/English)

8. How much does a transplant cost? And how will I pay for all of this?

Understandably, the prospect of a transplant is stressful enough without worrying about finances as well. The reality is that transplants are costly. Aside from medical costs, there may be additional out-of-pocket expenses. Being informed about the expenses can help you plan for and better manage the expenses that arise.

The entire transplant procedure (including donor search costs and post-transplant costs such as prescriptions and lodging) is expensive, and insurance plans vary widely on how much they cover. It is possible that much of your transplant, if not the entire cost, will be covered.

General ranges for an autologous transplant (using the patient's own cells) can cost from $75,000–$150,000 or more. An allogeneic transplant (using donor cells, either related or unrelated) can range from $150,000–$300,000 or more. Call your insurer to learn about your health insurance coverage and what your transplant center choices are, or have your transplant center make the call on your behalf. If your insurer refuses to cover expenses, be persistent and consider speaking with legal counsel or someone with expertise in the insurance field. Consider getting second opinions at transplant centers covered by your insurance.

Costs may vary depending on your treatment center. Although the center may not be able to quote you an exact dollar amount for your transplant, you can request a general estimate for the cost of your transplant and what your insurance plan will pay to determine your out of pocket expenses. This is especially important if your insurance coverage is limited.

It is difficult to predict your expenses after the transplant. Much will depend on your recovery time, which may range from six months to a year or longer. Your insurance company will probably cover testing and may also cover follow-up visits. However, there are many out-of-pocket expenses. Medications can be very costly, especially if you do not have prescription coverage. Ask about your coverage prior to transplant.

Be the Match offers a free financial guide for transplant patients called Mapping the Maze. This guide can help you plan for the costs of transplant. (See Resource Listing)

Financial Aid

There are some places you can turn to for help with transplant expenses. While there are no agencies or organizations that will absorb the full cost of a transplant, some relief is possible. Ask a social worker at your transplant center to direct you to appropriate resources and organizations. Check with nonprofit organizations affiliated with your disease. Certain organizations help cover mileage, lodging, and even some prescriptions. See the Resource Listing for organizations that help with finances, while keeping in mind that the aid the organizations provide may vary from year to year and may be restricted geographically. Being persistent and resourceful in finding resources can be very helpful. Some patients contact different airlines to see if they can get discounted flights. Others call local relief agencies affiliated with their religion, and yet others may find financial help through their local social services agencies.

If the transplant is for a child under the age of 18, contact your state department of health. Many states have Children's Health Care Services, which provide substantial financial aid or insurance coverage, regardless of your income. Sometimes monthly supplemental payments might be required from you.

If insurance coverage is minimal for your transplant, you may need to raise funds to help pay for your treatment. It is important to begin fundraising efforts early. There are several nonprofit organizations that specialize in helping patients raise funds. These organizations help arrange fundraisers and maintain accounts to which tax-deductible contributions can be made on a patient's behalf. Another benefit of working with such groups is that they may provide encouragement and emotional support. Also check with civic, service, or religious groups for help.

Please call the nbmtLINK at 800-LINK-BMT (800-546-5268) or e-mail info@nbmtlink.org for additional information. If you need a transplant and have no resources to cover it, you may be eligible to enroll in a clinical trial without insurance. 800-4-CANCER is a national line that can help answer your questions.

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