Grandma needs cancer treatment, but has no insurance
April 11, 2011 7:45 PM   Subscribe

MIL has cancer and needs to move from OH to IA. She has no insurance. How do we get her into treatment fast? How do we get her insurance (Medicare/Medicaid)? Details inside.

My MIL lives in OH and was recently diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. Unfortunately she only recently moved to OH and has no support system there to help her through her treatments. Because of this, my wife and I have asked her to move back home to IA where she has a lot a family and everyone can pitch in. My MIL is 64, deaf, currently is receiving minimal Social Security income, and has no insurance.

She was diagnosed at the Cleveland Clinic and has been cleared to receive a financial aid package to cover the cost of treatment there; however, since she will be moving back to IA soon (this weekend) we need to find her a) a source of treatment b) a way to pay for treatment. We were working on the assumption that the doctors at the Cleveland clinic would be able to facilitate a transfer medical information and status, but that hasn't seemed to have been the case, my wife was told she needed work the Iowa end of getting her Mom into treatment herself.

So here are questions:
1) Will she qualify for Medicaid/Medicare in the state of Iowa?
2) If so, is there any way to expedite it?
3) How do we get her into treatment as soon as possible? My wife has already set her up to see pulmonary doctor and get a second opinion though some contacts at work. Also, we are close to the U of I.
4) Obviously this all needs to happen quickly, what are some things we can to this week to help the situation along? We need all the help we can get.
posted by caflores22 to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
IANYL. If she's receiving Social Security for disability she should be eligible for Medicaid (I believe Medicare has a mandatory waiting period). If she's only getting retirement payments, she may be able to file for Social Security Disability, which has expedited determinations for certain cancer cases and may get her covered. You need to contact a local Disability lawyer who can give you real answers, help you with the mountain of paper work and knows the ins and outs of eligibility in Iowa.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:24 PM on April 11, 2011

The social workers at UIHC should be able to help with the financial aspects of this. There's a main contact number on their site at Also you may be able to get financial counseling / social services referrals through UIHC clinics.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:27 PM on April 11, 2011

1) No way to know whether she will qualify for Medicaid in a particular state based on the info provided. I would call IA Dept. of Human Services at 800-338-8366 and they will guide you through eligibility. Medicare is only available to people 65 and over unless they have been on SSDI for 24 months or more (or certain other specific criteria found here.
2) See above.
3) Contact the U of I and ask if they offer charity care. Also contact any nearby facilities.
4) I would call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345. Let them know that your MIL is under 65, was diagnosed with lung cancer, will be living in IA, and needs information on health insurance options. They don't provide insurance and I should make it very clear that they do not pay for treatment (ever), but can provide information on potential health insurance options for people in your MIL's situation.

To be honest, if none of the options pan out for Medicaid or other programs in IA, your best bet is to keep her at the Cleveland Clinic, where she has been given a financial assistance package if at all possible. They also have a lot of good services at Cleveland Clinic as far as support groups and social workers and the like, as you may have already found out.
posted by elpea at 8:28 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

*to make that clearer, people under 65 CAN get Medicare if they've been on SSDI for 24 months or longer. Hospital coverage (part A) is free, but you should be sure to enroll her in part B (outpatient services) and part D (prescription drugs). There is a premium for B and D. I used to work for ACS and some people weren't completely aware of that process, so just keep that in mind.
Good thoughts to you and your family!
posted by elpea at 8:31 PM on April 11, 2011

Contact your local branch of the Cancer Society and the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, both of them are good sources for contacts and referrals within the Medicaid/Medicare system. You might want to contact an agency for the deaf, too, it can't hurt. Get her signed up for Medicaid ASAP- even if there's a waiting period, Medicaid often covers things retroactively. What hospital is she going to be treated at in IA? Does the hospital have a financial specialist? (Sometimes called an insurance specialist.) Get in touch with this person and explain the situation. A good sized hospital will often waive initial treatment fees, especially if they know payment will be forthcoming once insurance kicks in, How many months away is her 65th birthday? If she turns 65 soon, the hospital might just be able to do a 90 day delay on submitting billing to Medicare. I would do all this stuff, like this week. If nothing pans out by next week, I'd find an elder care lawyer.

Good luck. Your family is in my thoughts.
posted by Leta at 7:51 AM on April 12, 2011

Thanks for the leads everyone, we're going to give them a try and see what we can come up with.
posted by caflores22 at 10:46 AM on April 12, 2011

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