When someone gets a cancer diagnosis, the complexities of the treatment and the financial toll can be devastating. Many cancer centers have financial counselors to inform patients about the costs of treatment and make payment arrangements, but Botsford Cancer Center has chosen a different path by hiring a financial navigator, who works from the patient’s perspective and helps find resources to meet the patient’s financial needs.
“Cancer treatment is expensive,” says Nicholle Mehr, Director of the Botsford Cancer Center. “Some cancer drugs can cost $100,000 for a year’s treatment. Coupled with high deductibles, copays and sometimes reduced income, patients and their families can easily become overwhelmed.”
In most hospitals, if there is a problem with coverage, patients must deal with those issues on their own. A lot of patients don’t understand the process and get lost in the system and may never return to the hospital. Also, in the hospital setting there are reimbursement issues that the hospital really cannot fix, because it requires some action on the part of the patient. A financial navigator helps find creative ways to solve those problems.
Meet Stefanie Johnson, RN. She helps patients find insurance coverage or payment sources, so they don’t have the worry of shouldering alone the high-cost of cancer care. Using her clinical knowledge and compassionate nature, Stefanie educates patients—often before a cancer diagnosis is confirmed. She helps patients and their families to make informed financial and insurance choices that are beneficial for them. And, she removes the fear factor, mystery and stress of navigating health insurance plans for cancer treatment bills than often total hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Stefanie has worked in several nursing and operations positions for hospitals in the past, but she says that being the Financial Navigator at Botsford Cancer Center is her dream job. She loves that her job is to care for patients’ financial needs, which leads to increased compliance with treatment.
While not an insurance agent, Stefanie is very knowledgeable about the variety of insurance products and cancer-specific funding programs available to patients. Using her knowledge on behalf of patients, she is helping to alleviate the financial burden of stress that faces so many cancer patients.
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