Cancer Survivors Face Finance-Related Stress

Cancer survivors have increased medical financial hardship, as well as psychological stress related to medical bills, according to a study published in Cancer.

Researchers used the National Health Interview Survey to identify cancer survivors between 2013 and 2016. Survivors were stratified by age:

  • 18‐49 years (n=1,424)
  • 50‐64 years (n=2,916)
  • ≥65 years (n=6,014)

These patients were matched with individuals without a history of cancer who were also stratified by age:

  • 18‐64 years (n=66,951)
  • 50‐64 years (n=31,741)
  • ≥65 years (n=25,744)

Researchers classified medical financial hardship as:

  • Material (e.g., issues paying medical bills)
  • Psychological (e.g., worrying about paying medical bills)
  • Behavioral (e.g., delaying/forgoing care due to cost)

Compared with individuals without a history of cancer, survivors were more likely to report any material, psychological, and behavioral financial hardship.

Survivors aged 18 to 49 years were impacted the most: Approximately 43% had health-related financial issues compared with 30% of those without a history of cancer. In this age cohort, 31% of survivors delayed care due to costs compared with 21% of the average people this age.

Among survivors with private insurance, high‐deductible plans without a health savings account were associated with greater hardship compared with low‐deductible plans.

“Interventions designed to reduce financial hardship should consider multiple domains of hardship, as well as insurance benefit design,” the authors concluded.

Patients and physicians report conflicting attitudes surrounding discussions of cancer’s financial burden.

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Source: Cancer