Your rights as a cancer patient are covered by the laws listed below.
Consider this a jumping off point to your advocacy. If you are unable to self-advocate then utilize your personal advocate as recommended in the Battling Cancer archives article Patient Advocacy.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: Basic guidelines of the ADA include:
What is reasonable accommodation? It requires employers to modify an employee with cancer’s job responsibilities and or hours while they are undergoing treatment and beyond. This may include modification of work equipment or allowing an employee to come in late and make up the hours during treatment. Employers are not required to make changes that would require an undue hardship on the business.
Report violations of the ADA to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, (EEOC), within 180 days of the incident.
Statistics from the EEOC, “In Fiscal Year 2006 EEOC resolved 15,708 disability discrimination charges and recovered $54.4 million in monetary benefits for charging parties and other aggrieved individuals (not including monetary benefits obtained through litigation).”
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because they have cancer. This act only applies to employees of the executive branch of the federal government, as well as private and public employers who receive public funds. The Congressional Accountability Act prohibits the same discrimination practices in the legislative branch of government. Acts of discrimination in the executive branch of the federal government must be reported to the EEOC within 45 days of the incident.
The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993: The FMLA allows an employee to take unpaid leave due to a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform his job or to care for a sick family member or to care for a new son or daughter (including by birth, adoption or foster care). For cancer patients, this can mean up to twelve weeks of unpaid protected leave.
Guidelines to be covered under FMLA:
You must be employed for 12 months or 1,250 hours prior to requesting leave and your work site employer must have at least 50 employees.
Resources: Information and Advocacy
The American Bar Association Breast Cancer Legal Advocacy Initiative includes information for breast cancer patients. Their ten steps to protecting the rights of breast cancer patients apply to all cancer patients when dealing with their insurance carrier. Visit their site for more details on the ten steps listed below.
1. Read your health insurance policy carefully
2. Determine if the treatment prescribed by your doctor is covered by your insurance policy
3. Find out what the appeals process is for your insurance policy
4. Consult with an expert in heath insurance law
5. Plead your case in person
6. Personalize your written case
7. Obtain copies of your medical records
8. Document everything
9. Ask your doctor to advocate for you
10 Be prepared to fight
Patient Advocate Foundation: a non-profit national organization that seeks to safeguarding patients through effective mediation assuring access to care, maintenance of employment and preservation of financial stability relative to their diagnosis. Besides providing information on legal issues they also provide personal assistance.
“Patient Advocate Foundation offers assistance to patients with specific issues they are facing with their insurer, employer and/or creditor regarding insurance, job retention and/or debt crisis matters relative to their diagnosis of life threatening or debilitating diseases.”
Be your own cancer survival advocate. Download free Cancer Survival Toolbox. “The Cancer Survival Toolbox is a free, self-learning audio program that has been developed by leading cancer organizations to help people develop important skills to better meet and understand the challenges of their illness. ” It is available online or in a free CD. Especially note section 6, Standing Up For Your Rights, which is devoted to advocacy.
The Patient’s Bill of Rights
- Information and disclosure
- Choice of providers and plans
- Access to emergency services
- Participation in treatment decisions
- Respect and non discrimination
- Confidentiality of health information
- Right to complain and appeal
Medicare: Your Medicare Rights and Protections. In pdf from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.