HealthWell Foundation Launches New Fund to Assist Individuals Living with Pancreatic Cancer


Fund Provides Copayment and Premium Assistance to Medicare Patients

GERMANTOWN, Md. — March 22, 2021 — The HealthWell Foundation®, an independent non-profit that provides a financial lifeline for inadequately insured Americans, is pleased to announce that it has opened a new fund to assist individuals living with pancreatic cancer. Through the fund, HealthWell will provide up to $10,000 in medication copayment or insurance premium assistance for a 12-month grant period to eligible Medicare patients who have annual household incomes up to 500 percent of the federal poverty level.

About Pancreatic Cancer

According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), pancreatic cancer begins when abnormal cells in the pancreas (a gland in the abdomen that makes enzymes that help digestion and hormones that control blood-sugar levels) divide and grow out of control and form a tumor. These cells can spread to other tissues and organs, particularly the liver, abdominal wall, lungs, bones and/or lymph nodes. There are two types of pancreatic tumors, based on the type of cell where they start.

  • Exocrine tumors, which represent approximately 93% of pancreatic cancers. The most common type of pancreatic cancer is adenocarcinoma.
  • Neuroendocrine (endocrine) tumors, also called islet cell tumors, represent about 7% of pancreatic tumors and often grow slower than exocrine tumors.

Although exact causes of pancreatic cancer are not understood, about 10% of pancreatic cancers are familial or hereditary. A person may also be more likely to get pancreatic cancer because of long-standing diabetes (over five years), smoking, being over 60 years of age, ethnicity, gender (males are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer) and obesity. It is estimated that more than 60,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2021.

Pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose. Symptoms are often vague and mimic other illnesses or conditions, so most patients are diagnosed late when the disease has spread, requiring those living with the disease to undergo aggressive, sometimes very expensive treatment. The cost of those treatments, especially for individuals on Medicare, may represent a financial dilemma they are unable to address. Treatment to slow the progression of the disease is a number one priority, regardless of the cost.

“We applaud the HealthWell Foundation for recognizing this critical need and for offering this valuable resource to the pancreatic cancer community so they may begin or continue life-changing treatment without the undue stress of worrying about how to afford it,” said Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, president and CEO of PanCAN.

“Pancreatic cancer is a disease for which there is no cure. Treatments to manage the disease often include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, which can present insurmountable financial challenges to the patient, especially for those on Medicare, and their family,” said Krista Zodet, HealthWell Foundation President. “We are honored that our dedicated donors recognize this hardship and that we are now able to offer financial relief to the pancreatic cancer community. Our ability to provide these individuals with medication copayment or insurance premium assistance will allow them to obtain the treatments they need to manage their disease without the unwanted stress of mounting medical bills.”

To determine eligibility and apply for financial assistance, visit HealthWell’s Pancreatic Cancer – Medicare Access Fund page. To learn how you can support this or other HealthWell programs, visit

About the HealthWell Foundation
A nationally recognized, independent non-profit organization founded in 2003, the HealthWell Foundation has served as a safety net across over 80 disease areas for more than 615,000 underinsured patients. Since its inception, HealthWell has provided over $2.1 billion in grant support to access life-changing medical treatments patients otherwise would not be able to afford. HealthWell provides financial assistance to adults and children facing medical hardship resulting from gaps in their insurance that cause out-of-pocket medical expenses to escalate rapidly; HealthWell assists with the treatment-related cost-sharing obligations of these patients. HealthWell ranked 29th on the 2020 Forbes list of The 100 Largest U.S. Charities and was recognized for its 100 percent fundraising efficiency. For more information, visit

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