Medicare Open Enrollment and Insurance Issues for Mesothelioma Patients


By Mary Hesdorffer, NP, Executive Director, Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

Open enrollment for Medicare continues through Dec 7th 2012.  If you are locked into a Medicare HMO that is not meeting your insurance needs, now is the time to take action. The Meso Foundation is not advocating for any particular plan but we do find that university hospital-based systems are more likely to accept straight Medicare more than the restrictive HMOs that you may initially have signed up with. There are some great supplemental policies to add to the coverage provided by Medicare that you may wish to consider.

Medicare has a user-friendly website ( that you can use as a reference as you begin to explore the various options. It provides a drop down menu with state-specific phone numbers that you can call for assistance. I have called Medicare when assisting members of the mesothelioma community and I have found them to be polite and helpful.

Mesothelioma patients and their families need good insurance and comprehensive coverage, so take the time today to explore Medicare and discuss what options might best meet the needs of your family.

Another good resource for the mesothelioma community is the oncology social work department.  You can call your local hospital and ask to speak with someone in the social work department.  They are well versed in insurance needs as well as a great resource for finding out about assistance programs that might be available in your community.

Mesothelioma Patients Among the Many Affected by Hurricane Sandy

beach-walkThis last week, so many lives were disrupted and turned upside down. Many mesothelioma patients who are currently being treated on the East Coast and, specifically, in the New York City area, are among those affected.

They are in our thoughts, and to the extent that we can be of any help, we wish to encourage them to contact us.

We were all horrified by the news that the NYU’s hospital was being evacuated a few days ago. Dr. Harvey Pass, the esteemed mesothelioma surgeon, had to move his patients to other hospitals in the city. While doing so, he still had to ensure that everyone received and is receiving proper care – not an easy task when patients are scattered around in a city that has been difficult to navigate. But Dr. Pass’ dedication to his patients is clear. If anyone can overcome such a Herculean task, it is Dr. Pass!

For some patients, the situation is even more dire. Given that many centers and physicians who treat mesothelioma are located on the East Coast, the road closures and airline cancellations are affecting both newly diagnosed patients seeking specialized help, as well as those in the midst of treatment.

We have been receiving reports from patients who have already missed a treatment, and some who have now missed two. The results of that can be catastrophic in terms of treatment response in a disease that is already so difficult to treat.

As if the uncertainty of a mesothelioma diagnosis wasn’t enough, it is now being compounded by the uncertainty of the ability to receive treatment.