Helping Patients Pay for Needed Treatment
A few months ago, we shared an interview that the Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation conducted with Becki Tinder about our efforts to help patients afford their prescriptions. Shortly after joining The Ghosh Center, Becki began researching sources of financial assistance and came upon this remarkable organization. It was the beginning of a powerful partnership that has enabled us to help so many of the people we care for.
In their recent annual report, the Foundation included a two-page article about Becki’s work to reduce the out-of-pocket cost of prescriptions. The article is reprinted here in its entirety. You can see the full report here: PAN Foundation 2017 Annual Report
Paying It Forward
PAN Foundation Annual Report
For Becki Tinder, her work is personal. As a Certified Pharmacy Technician at The Ghosh Center for Oncology & Hematology in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Ms. Tinder manages the medication dispensary, inventory and supplies, and oversees the mixing of chemotherapy. She also purchases the medications and knows exactly how much a particular medication will cost a patient.
“I get to see the big picture – it makes it much more personal when you see what the final cost is for the patient,”
Ms. Tinder says. “It really makes it a mission to help these patients as much as possible.”Ms. Tinder works toward this mission by seeking out financial assistance for her patients, the majority of whom are over 65.
At The Ghosh Center, about 75 percent of patients need some sort of financial assistance, and the protocol is both simple and patient-centric; patients are not alerted to the cost of their treatment until financial assistance has been secured.
“We are proactive – we spell out treatment costs, factor in insurance and determine the patient’s responsibility,” Ms. Tinder says. “The next time they come in, we tell them about the treatment, inform them how much their insurance covers and tell them about the financial assistance we’ve secured. The last thing we want patients to worry about is what it is going to cost them.”
Ms. Tinder came to The Ghosh Center seven years ago, after spending nearly two decades working as a Pharmacy Technician in both retail and hospital settings. In those positions, she was familiar with co-pay cards and some assistance programs, but the Medicare patients she sees at The Ghosh Center presented a new challenge. She credits an online search and NeedyMeds for finding the PAN Foundation. After securing PAN assistance for the first time, she knew she had found a valuable resource for her patients.
For many years, Ms. Tinder was the only business office employee at The Ghosh Center, but now a colleague (Mike Burgin) manages chemotherapy while she oversees the oral medication side. Their team has been extremely successful – in the last three and a half years, they have helped patients save more than $6.5 million*.
According to Ms. Tinder, patient assistance organizations like PAN have made cancer care more affordable.
“There are patients who absolutely would have denied getting treatment because they couldn’t afford it,” she recalls. “It has given these patients time to spend with their loved ones doing things that they would not be able to do otherwise.”
Ms. Tinder says that when she tells patients they will receive financial assistance, there are hugs and tears. One patient who has received assistance with a life-saving drug for several years brings her home-baked treats on a weekly basis.
But perhaps the most remarkable display of gratitude is the desire to pay it forward. For many patients, financial support inspires them to help others.
“Sometimes they can’t believe there are foundations and programs to help them, and sometimes they find they have a little extra money, so they feel inspired to help someone else,” Ms. Tinder says. “It has a domino effect in our community. They say, “What can we do to pay it back?”
Want to join others in paying it forward?
Give to the Anna Purna Ghosh Foundation.
Join us on September 15 for the Blesie Tree Walk.
*Update: Since the annual report was published, the savings to patients has exceeded $7 million.