Cancer and Insurance: Who Do You Call?

For families affected by cancer, the phone number is easy to remember: 1-800-ACS-2345. The letters stand for the American Cancer Society, and dialing the number takes you to the ACS’s National Cancer Information Center in Austin, Texas. The call center fields about a million calls a year, offering answers questions both simple and complex, from “Where can I get help with transportation when I can’t drive to chemo appointments?” to “How do I find insurance if my illness forces me to quit my job?” Half the calls coming into the center deal with paying for treatment, either because lifetime limits on policies are quickly reached — cancer is one of the five most costly medical conditions in the U.S., according to the ACS — or because the patient is struggling to maintain coverage in the face of rising premiums and accumulating co-pay costs.