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Cost of Mesothelioma Treatment

The cost of mesothelioma treatment can quickly exceed $100,000, and hidden costs such as travel, lodging, and lost wages add significantly to the financial burden. Even with insurance coverage, out-of-pocket expenses may be substantial. The companies that exposed you to asbestos should have to bear these costs, not you. Contact a mesothelioma attorney at the Lanier Law Firm today to learn how you can get the compensation you deserve.

Sam Taylor (1)

Legally Reviewed By: Sam E. Taylor
Managing Attorney | Mesothelioma & Asbestos in Houston

Sam Taylor

Legally Reviewed By: Sam E. Taylor
Managing Attorney | Mesothelioma & Asbestos in Houston

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that often requires intensive treatment, escalating the financial burden on patients and their families. The costs include diagnostic testing, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, novel treatments, hospitalization, and follow-up care.

These medical expenses come in addition to the non-medical costs of mesothelioma, including personal care, transportation, and housekeeping assistance.

While insurance and financial assistance through government and charitable programs can help, the remaining out-of-pocket costs are generally beyond the means of most people.

Therefore, compensation from a mesothelioma lawsuit or asbestos trust fund claim is crucial. Don’t let finances stand in the way of life-extending treatment. Let our compassionate, experienced mesothelioma lawyers help you get the compensation you need and deserve.

Individual Mesothelioma Treatment Costs

The overall cost of mesothelioma treatment hinges largely on your treatment options and preferences. If you are diagnosed at an early stage—before the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body—you have more options. While many of these options can significantly raise your life expectancy, they can also significantly increase your costs.

The average cost of mesothelioma treatment can vary significantly between geographical regions and treatment centers. For example, treatment in the Northeast tends to cost more than in the Midwest. The figures below are national averages and may differ where you’re located.

Diagnostic Testing Costs

Testing for mesothelioma involves a series of imaging tests and often a biopsy. The cost for these tests can range from $260 to $16,575.

Diagnostic Test Cost
Computed Tomography $1200 to $3,200
MRI $1,200 to $4,000
Chest X-ray $260 to $460
Biopsy $16,575 average cost

The Cost of Mesothelioma Surgery

Surgery may be recommended if you were diagnosed during an early stage. The average costs of pleural mesothelioma surgery as of 2014, the latest year for which data is available, is as follows: 

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy, or removal of the lung – $62,408
  • Pleurectomy and decortication, or removal of the pleura and visible tumors – $53,993
  • Drainage of the pleural cavity – $16,089

The pleura are the thin linings surrounding the lungs where pleural mesothelioma starts.

If you have been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, you may be a candidate for a surgical procedure known as cytoreductive surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy, or CRS-HIPEC. The cost for this procedure generally ranges from $16,395 to $25,240.

Systemic Treatment Costs

Systemic treatment for mesothelioma includes chemotherapy and immunotherapy. The standard first-line chemotherapy drugs are pemetrexed and cisplatin. Chemotherapy is rarely effective in controlling mesothelioma alone, so it is usually combined with surgery and immunotherapy for an enhanced result.

The costs of these treatments can vary between treatment centers and may be higher or lower based on your dosage. The cost of immunotherapy is significantly higher because it is a newer form of therapy. The average costs are as follows:

Drug Type of Drug Cost
Pemetrexed (Alimta) Chemotherapy $38,473 for six infusions
Cisplatin (Platinol) Chemotherapy $306 for six infusions
Bevacizumab (Avastin) Immunotherapy $48,779 for six infusions
Opdivo and Yervoy Immunotherapy $23,597 per infusion
Opdivo alone Immunotherapy $7,194 per infusion

These are not the only chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs used for mesothelioma treatment. Your treatment plan may vary, which can affect these costs.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation is a targeted therapy aimed at individual tumors. It is usually used to augment chemotherapy or surgery. The average cost of radiation is $8,600 per course.

Patient receiving radiation therapy treatment

Advanced Novel Therapies

The most cutting-edge therapies for mesothelioma are not standard and are out of reach for most people due to the exorbitant cost. They include the following:

 

Gene therapy uses a virus to modify the DNA of cancer cells, making them more responsive to other treatments.

Tumor treating fields are electrical currents transmitted by a wearable device, which kills cancer cells with minimal side effects. The Optune Lua is the brand name of such a device, which is FDA-approved for use with chemotherapy.

Hospital Fees

According to a 2019 study of 1,675 hospital discharges of mesothelioma patients, the average cost of hospitalization for mesothelioma patients was $24,901. The patients in the study had average stays lasting 7.7 days. However, there was a noticeable difference in costs between the Northeast and the Midwest, as follows:

  • Average cost in the Northeast: $33,396
  • Average cost in the Midwest: $18,206
 

On January 1, 2021, the federal Hospital Price Transparency Rule became effective, requiring hospitals to disclose pricing to the public. As a result, you should be able to easily compare pricing before selecting a hospital. However, a 2023 analysis of 2,000 hospitals by a major patient rights advocacy organization found that less than a quarter of hospitals are compliant.

Home Care and Skilled Nursing

When you need medical care outside the hospital, you may be able to receive care at home or in a skilled nursing facility.

Type of Care Average Cost per Month
Home Health $5,148
Nursing Home - Shared Room $7,908
Nursing Home - Private Room $9,034
End-of-Life Care Generally $0

Clinical Trials

Participation in clinical trials is usually paid for by the trial’s sponsor. This means you will likely not have to pay for the drugs you receive or any hospitalization stemming from the study. You will usually still be responsible for paying for routine tests and procedures. Travel and lodging costs are usually also your responsibility.

The terms of every clinical trial are different, and you must meet strict criteria before you can participate in clinical trials.

Scientist in a lab testing samples for a clinical trial

Does Insurance Cover Mesothelioma Treatment?

Insurance, including private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and others, typically covers a significant portion of standard mesothelioma treatment costs. Insurance generally does not cover experimental treatments or treatments not FDA-approved.

We recommend communicating directly with your insurance providers upfront to understand what services are covered and to what extent.

Medicare

Most people automatically qualify for Medicare after reaching 65. You may also qualify if you have a disability before age 65, including mesothelioma, which prevents you from working. Medicare includes several types of coverage, known as “parts.” Medicare coverage is usually not 100 percent. You will have shared costs that include the following:

  • Deductible – the amount you must pay each benefit period before your insurance begins to cover costs
  • Co-payments – the fixed amounts you pay for each visit
  • Co-insurance – your share of the costs of a service
  • Out-of-pocket maximum – the highest amount you are allowed to pay out-of-pocket in one year for covered expenses, after which your insurance will provide 100 percent coverage for covered expenses

Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A covers hospitalizations, surgery, lab work, diagnostic tests, short-term nursing home stays, home health care, and hospice. The shared costs are listed below.
Type of Shared Cost Amount You Pay
Deductible $1,600
Copayment for the first 60 days $0
Copayment for days 61-90 $400 per day
Copayment for days that exceed 90 $800 per day
Coinsurance for skilled nursing care days 1-20 $0
Coinsurance for skilled nursing care days 20-100 Up to $200 per day
Hospice $0 co-pay

Skilled nursing care is not covered after 100 days.

Prescription medications received while in hospice care have a $5 copayment. Hospice coverage does not include room and board, but it is most commonly offered at home, anyway. If you need housekeeping services, medical supplies, or grief counseling, you can receive these at no cost through hospice.

Medicare Part B

Medicare Part B covers outpatient medical care, including doctor visits, durable medical equipment, mental health services, preventive services, and home health. The deductible is $226 annually, and Part B covers 80 percent of your expenses after you pay your deductible.

Medicare Part C

Medicare Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage, and it combines the coverages offered by Parts A and B, and sometimes Part D, into one convenient insurance plan. You can sign up for Medicare Part C instead of Parts A and B when you enroll in Medicare and each year during open enrollment.

Medicare Advantage plans offer additional coverage options, and you can choose from several plans with lower copayments and, in some cases, no copayments. This can save significantly on the costs of treatment.

Unlike Medicare Part B, Medicare Advantage plans also have out-of-pocket maximums, adjusted yearly. Given the high cost of mesothelioma treatment, the right Part C policy can result in significant cost savings.

In 2023, the Medicare Advantage out-of-pocket limit is 8,300. This means that after you have paid $8,300 toward covered expenses, Medicare will pay 100 percent of your remaining covered costs. When selecting a plan, verifying that your provider accepts your plan is important.

Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D provides prescription drug coverage, offering multiple plans. If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for Extra Help, which decreases your prescription copays and deductibles to minimal amounts.

Medicare Part G

Medicare Part G is also known as Medigap, and it provides supplemental insurance to Medicare beneficiaries who opt to use Medicare Parts A and B instead of a Part C Advantage plan. Medigap covers copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.

Private Insurance

Private insurance generally covers a significant portion of the cost of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and prescription medications. You will receive the best coverage if you choose an in-network provider. This does not have to be within your local area. Mesothelioma treatment centers throughout the United States are in-network with plans outside their local areas.

If you have private insurance and your treatment plan includes the immunotherapy drugs Opdivo and Yervoy, you may be eligible for a co-pay assistance program offered by Bristol Myers Squibb, the drugs’ manufacturer.  This program is only available if you do not have Medicare or Medicaid. Uninsured patients may also be eligible for assistance.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a government-funded insurance program for people who meet certain low-income thresholds. It covers mesothelioma treatment, generally without deductibles and copays, but the coverage details vary by state.

If you live in a state that has not expanded Medicaid, your coverage may be more limited, and you may find it more difficult to qualify for Medicaid. Not all mesothelioma treatment centers accept Medicaid, and some states do not allow you to use Medicaid outside the state.

VA Benefits

If you are a United States military veteran with an honorable discharge, you may be able to receive VA health care coverage. If you can prove that you were exposed to asbestos in the military, you can file a VA disability claim.

When you receive a disability rating of 50 percent or higher, you can receive VA 100 percent free health care, with no copays or deductibles. Most veterans with service-connected mesothelioma receive a 100 percent disability rating. In addition to receiving free medical care, you can also receive monthly tax-free compensation.

Medical care is available at any VA hospital in the United States. The VA covers travel expenses if you must travel to a distant VA Medical Center to access mesothelioma treatment.

Non-Medical Costs Related to Mesothelioma Treatment

Unfortunately, insurance does not cover many costs associated with mesothelioma treatment. These costs can catch you off guard and may include the following:

  • Housekeeping services
  • Transportation to treatment
  • Lodging for treatment at a distant location
  • Hospital parking fees


Hospital parking fees can cost hundreds of dollars monthly when you need frequent treatments. A study by JAMA Oncology found that some patients paid as much as $1,680 in parking fees throughout treatment. It also found that of the 63 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers in the United States, only 20 offer free parking.

If you are not receiving hospice care and need an in-home caregiver, the monthly cost can be significant, and insurance rarely covers it. The average cost for a caregiver who provides light housekeeping services and assistance with basic needs, such as bathing and dressing, is $4,957 per month.

If you do not live near a mesothelioma treatment center, you may have to travel a long distance to access the specialized treatment you need. This can leave you with significant expenses for travel and lodging.

Travel and Lodging Assistance

Fortunately, several programs are available to help mesothelioma patients cover lodging and travel costs.

If you are a veteran who was exposed to asbestos in the military, you may be able to access free housing for you and your family during treatment at a Fisher House. Fisher Houses are located near various VA medical centers throughout the country. This program is provided by the VA and the Department of Defense.

Non-veterans can receive assistance for lodging and travel through the following programs:

  • Mercy Medical Angels – Free ground or air travel assistance for patients who require treatment at a distant location for a life-threatening condition
  • Air Charity Network – Free air transportation to specialized health care facilities provided by pilots who volunteer their own time, aircraft, and fuel
  • Road to Recovery Program – A program of the American Cancer Society that provides free local transportation with the help of volunteer drivers, to people who cannot drive themselves to and from treatment
  • Hope Lodge – Another program offered by the American Cancer Society that provides cancer patients and their families with housing during treatment away from home, with 30 locations throughout the United States

You can also contact the mesothelioma treatment center where you intend to seek treatment to inquire about local assistance with travel and lodging.

How to Pay for Mesothelioma Treatment

Even with insurance coverage or financial assistance, the out-of-pocket costs of mesothelioma treatment could be a hindrance to receiving the treatment you need to improve your quality of life and extend the time with your loved ones. 

Fortunately, you may not have to pay these costs on your own. A mesothelioma lawsuit can provide enough compensation to pay for treatment and give you and your family financial security for years to come. The companies that produced asbestos products knew it was harmful but exposed you anyway. They owe you for your treatment and your losses.

Our nationally recognized mesothelioma lawyers at the Lanier Law Firm have helped thousands of asbestos exposure victims recover significant compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and travel expenses. 

During the past 25+ years that we have been helping individuals and their families get justice against asbestos companies, we have helped our clients recover nearly $20 billion in settlements and verdicts, including the following:

  • $7 million for a Louisiana man who developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos
  • $4.5 million for a man who contracted mesothelioma from two years of asbestos exposure through joint compound
  • $3.7 million for an 82-year-old man who developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos in the Navy
  • $2.577 million settlement for a man who contracted mesothelioma from asbestos exposure on oil rigs and in the automotive industry
  • $2.257 million verdict for an Illinois laborer who was exposed to asbestos and contracted mesothelioma

In addition to filing a lawsuit, we can determine whether you qualify for compensation through the asbestos trust funds, where $30 billion is available for mesothelioma patients exposed to asbestos by companies that have since declared bankruptcy.

If you were exposed to asbestos at work, you may also qualify for a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation for mesothelioma can provide free medical treatment for mesothelioma and may also provide partial wage replacement. Contact the Lanier Law Firm today to learn more about your legal options to help with your mesothelioma treatment costs.

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