Amy Colver, LCSW
Melody Griffith, MSW, LMSW, OSW-C
AOSW Communications Director
Jeanice Hansen, LCSW, OSW-C
To submit a story or information for inclusion in a future issue of AOSW Newsletter, contact Amy Colver or Melody Griffith on the list above.
Volume 3 | Issue 3
Last winter, I moved to the beautiful state of Maine. Living near the ocean has been something that I don’t take for granted as it’s provided me with a sense of peace, especially when life gets hard. I recently heard the following quote: “There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.” This quote made me think about our work as social workers. Yes, we can stay “on the surface” with our patients and their loved ones, or when we encounter larger issues in our field, but when we have the courage to go deeper, to ask questions, to learn, and to help people feel heard, we gain an understanding and hopefully get to the place where we “get the whole point” of where a person is coming from and the issues they may be facing.
In this issue of Connections, you will read about financial toxicity and a myriad of ways in which it impacts the well-being of patients and their families. It is a subject near and dear to my heart, a frequent source of distress in my clinical work, and something I am grateful to see written about so eloquently here. As AOSW President, I am admittedly also concerned by the myriad of ways in which finances impact the well-being of our members and larger profession. Social workers may experience serious illness of course (their own or that of a loved one), but even without that they may experience financial distress.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a life-altering event that brings about numerous challenges for patients and their families. Beyond the physical and emotional toll, cancer often inflicts a silent burden that goes unnoticed: financial toxicity. The term "financial toxicity" refers to the adverse financial impact of cancer treatment, including the high costs of medical care, medication and supportive services. In this article, we shed light on the significant challenges faced by cancer patients regarding their finances and explore potential solutions to alleviate this burden.
Financial toxicity is of paramount interest in oncology care in the U.S. As profits for insurers, health systems and pharmaceutical companies have increased, so has the burden of cost sharing, underinsurance and inflation for cancer survivors. While the Affordable Care Act aimed to control costs and provide access to insurance for more individuals, it also amplified the crisis of loss of income, high deductibles, copays and coinsurances, and the cost of oral oncology treatments to cancer patients and their families.
As oncology social workers, understanding the psychosocial impact of financial toxicity and the ramifications of health equity disparities is crucial in providing comprehensive care for cancer patients. This article aims to explore the multifaceted challenges related to financial toxicity and health equity and disparities and provide insights and strategies to help oncology social workers support their patients in navigating these issues.
Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is never easy but those diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 15 and 39 face unique challenges. One challenge often overlooked, and therefore not planned for, is the financial impact of cancer treatment on the adolescent and young adult (AYA) population. Before diagnosis, many AYAs are at a stage in life where they’re striving toward greater financial independency and security. What happens when cancer interjects into this important growth stage, and how can we support AYAs as they navigate achieving financial independence?
When a patient faces financial stress there are often straight forward ways to help. But sometimes a patient’s financial need is complex and doesn’t fit into any traditional form of financial assistance. These are the situations where social workers shine, as they have the skills to investigate a patient’s entire story and consider out of the box ways to provide support.
This, our third Issue of 2023, marks my last issue as AOSW Connections Editor-in-Chief. This is the 10th year I have been at the helm of our AOSW newsletter, a position that offers a very unique vantage point in witnessing how our association has evolved this past decade. I’m very proud of the space that this newsletter holds in our organization as an avenue for each AOSW social worker passionate about psychosocial oncology to share their ideas and wisdom. It is a platform that facilitates and encourages learning from each other as we better ourselves and our profession.
In an effort to help our colleagues in working through financial concerns with patients and their loved ones, we created a partial list of financial assistance resources. You’ll find information on financial assistance options for daily living expenses, transportation costs, and co-payments for cancer treatment as well as medications. We also included college scholarship opportunities. Additionally, we offered a few online tools to help with locating financial resources. Although this is not a comprehensive list, we hope this information is helpful in the meaningful and important work that you do every day!