Quality of Life Morgan County: Easing the Financial Burden for Individuals Fighting Cancer
Written By: Robin Reid, Storyteller/Content Manager
When you’ve been diagnosed with cancer or other chronic, life challenging diseases, the last thing you want to worry about is how you’re going to get to treatment, pay for medication, keep food on the table, insurance coverage, and more.
For more than 20 years Quality of Life (QOL) Morgan County has been helping individuals and families battling cancer or other diseases find hope and comfort in their daily living.
“Quality of Life started when a cancer patient told nurses Kathy Fetheroff and Julie Whitaker-Finney he wouldn’t be going to chemo next week because he didn’t have gas for his car,” said QOL Chairwoman Shirley Lindemann. “Kathy and Julie spoke to the Director of Nursing and asked for money to help their patient. They gave some of their own money and collected from other hospital staff, so this man could make it to his treatment.”
According to Lindemann, Dr. Thomas Dugan, a radiation oncologist working at the hospital, helped the nurses start Quality of Life Morgan County. When the cancer unit moved into a new building, Regional Cancer Center (IU Health Morgan), there were more patients needing assistance from QOL.
In 2012, Quality of Life partnered with the Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) and set up a fund to manage donations.
Donations help cancer patients in different ways.
“We use the funds to help people pay rent, buy gas for their vehicles, support cancer fundraisers, and make life at home as comfortable as possible,” Lindemann said.
Before assistance is provided, individuals must complete a form and provide proof of their medical condition and treatment. The maximum amount of assistance is $1,000 per person.
People with health insurance may find themselves needing help, too. Last year the Commonwealth Fund reported many middle-income families in the United States spent 11% of their annual income on out-of-pocket health care expenses as well as insurance premiums and deductibles. Between 2016 and 2017, annual family premiums increased to $20,000 while individual premiums rose to $7,000. With healthcare costs continuing to grow, these individuals and families are having to decide whether to go without insurance, so they can pay for food, housing, utilities and more.
Lindemann said QOL has also helped retired people due to gaps in their Medicare coverage.
“Many people assume Medicare will cover everything, but it doesn’t. The average 65-year-old retiree today should expect to pay around $5,000 a year on health care premiums and out-of-pocket expenses,” said Steve Feinschreiber, Senior Vice President of Fidelity’s Financial Solutions Group, in a Fidelity Viewpoints article published in April 2018.
In 2018, QOL served approximately 25-50 people. “There are many people who don’t know about us, so the word needs to get out,” added Lindemann.
All of us can do something to help ease the financial burden for cancer patients.
Debbie Burns has been a QOL volunteer for 10 years. She joined the group while working at the Regional Cancer Center. Debbie works with the local Kroger Pharmacy to allow cancer patients to pick up their medications without having to worry how they’re going to pay for it. She takes care of the paperwork in order for QOL to pay the expenses.
“I saw many patients who couldn’t afford their medications, so I wanted to help,” Debbie said. “I hope others will donate because it makes a big difference in someone’s life.”
Partner with CFMC to help more individuals and families struggling with a life-threatening or chronic illness by donating to the Quality of Life Morgan County Fund today. Every dollar counts. Go to www.cfmconline.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CFMC’s mission is to connect donors and their charitable giving with our evolving community needs in order to enhance the quality of life for current and future generations through impact grantmaking. The vision of CFMC is to be the philanthropic leader and a catalyst in order to maximize available resources in our community.