Even though you're aware that going through chemotherapy and radiation will lead to hair loss, going through it can still be very devastating. Research shows that most cancer patients feel less beautiful with every strand of their hair that falls off. This means it also affects their confidence and self-esteem, which is a lot to deal with given everything else they're going through.
Doctors advise patients who feel like they lose a part of themselves when they lose their hair to wear wigs. And this brings us to the big question: does insurance cover wigs for cancer patients? Read on to see your options.
Will My Health Insurance Cover the Cost of My Medical Wig?
The short answer is YES; medical insurance covers pay for wigs fully or partially depending on their terms and conditions. Unfortunately, not many cancer patients are aware of this.
This goes for any other medical conditions that may lead to hair loss and require you to wear a wig like alopecia.
However, so many things factor in determining whether your insurance will cover your wig or not. For example, the terminology you use to apply for a wig is crucial, and a record of your paper trail is even more critical.
Tips of Getting Financial Aid for Your Medical Wig
As I mentioned earlier, not every cancer patient is compensated for a wig because most don't know how to claim it. Here are some tips to help you claim for a cancer wig.
Consult Your Medical insurance First
Don't assume that your health insurance doesn't cover medical wigs. Call your insurance and talk to them before you start shopping. Most insurance companies will offer to pay fully or partially depending on the wig you choose.
The costs of the wigs differ depending on the quality. For example, a designer human hair wig costs way more than a simple synthetic wig. If you go for the latter, your insurance may cover the total cost of the wig. However, if you want a human hair wig, a large portion of the money will have to come from your pocket.
Use the Right Terminology
For your health insurance cover to even consider covering any costs for your wig, they'll require a prescription from your oncologist. However, if the report describes a wig as simply a wig, your application won't be processed.
Insurance companies will require you to describe the medical wig as "cranial prosthesis" or "hair prosthesis." I know this sounds complex and scary, but it's just how health insurance companies label chemotherapy wigs. To shed a little light, a cranial prosthesis is a hair system specifically designed for patients who have lost their hair following medical conditions.
In some cases, the health insurance will require you to purchase the wig first, then send a receipt alongside your claim. Filing a claim for a medical wig can also be a little challenging, especially when deciding on the right words to describe your new hair. For example, a cranial prosthesis can sometimes be filed under durable medical goods.
Have a Copy of All Your Paperwork
It's very important to make a copy of all the paperwork related to your wig purchase. Keeping a paper trail makes work easier when filing for reimbursement. Additionally, it also makes it easy for you to submit a new claim if your paperwork goes missing before you're compensated.
Some of the documents that you should keep for claiming a wig include:
- - Your oncologist's prescription
- - The wig's sales receipt
- - A filled-in insurance claim
- - Any other information you share with the insurance company
If the whole process is still a blur to you, consider talking to someone who has been in your place or a pro. Some options include retail shops that specialize in cancer patients. The help you get from these shops will vary based on their policies. In some shops, you'll get professionals who will help you file the claim, while in other shops you'll simply be guided.
Talk to the hospital social worker to see if they have some great recommendations or guidance. Another place you can get help is in cancer social media groups. Here you'll find people who have successfully claimed the medical wigs, and they'll gladly hold your hand throughout the process.
What If My Health Insurance Doesn't Pay for My Wig?
Unfortunately, some insurance companies are still very reluctant when it comes to covering wigs for cancer patients. If your insurance doesn't pay for your wig, here are your alternatives.
Apply for a Tax Deduction
Wigs for cancer patients who have lost hair from chemotherapy are eligible for a tax deduction. I know this may seem worthless because medical expenses must be above 10% of adjusted growth income. However, if you add other things like acupuncture count and mileage for transportation, you'll realize the tax deduction can save you a few bucks.
In this case, ensure you keep your wig receipt. It will save you time when applying for the deduction.
Go for Inexpensive Wigs
If you consult with your insurance company and realize they won't be paying for your wig, contact your local America Cancer Society. The latter may have a way to help you secure a donated wig at no cost.
Alternatively, you can shop around for a cheap wig; some retail shops offer a small discount for cancer patients. However, even without the discount, you can get an affordable human hair wig or a quality synthetic wig to wear as your hair grows back. Some shops will even allow you to pay in installments.
Style: Cameron by Rene of Paris
Dealing with cancer is one of the hardest things anyone can go through in their lifetime. It's emotionally, financially, and mentally draining. And when you're aware that the treatment will have side effects like hair loss, dealing with the changes isn't easy.
Luckily, we now have options like wigs that can help make patients feel a little better. The best thing to do is to start thinking about ways of getting a wig early in your treatment so that you're aware of your options. Even if you decide to go for scalp cooling to reduce hair loss, it's still good to have a wig on standby just in case.
Does your health insurance cover wigs for cancer patients? If yes, tell us more in the comment section.