Cancer Survivors Suffering Financial Hardships Have More Emergency Visits and Less Preventive Care

Financial hardships – both medical and nonmedical related – are linked to more emergency room visits, less receipt of preventative care, and worse self-rated health in cancer survivors, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

While over half of Americans suffer medical financial hardship at some point, cancer survivors are particularly a vulnerable population, and more likely to endure material, psychological, and behavioral financial hardships compared to individuals without a history of cancer. Moreover, cancer survivors experience non-medical hardships that include food insecurity and, and work limitations that stifle their earnings potential.

There remains little research that investigates how medical and nonmedical hardships among cancer survivors affect the use of preventive services. In this study, researchers assessed responses from approximately 12,000 cancer survivors in the National Health Interview Survey, separating survivors into two age groups.

According to the results, the researchers observed cancer survivors with higher medical and nonmedical financial hardship intensities were more likely to report any emergency room visit and rated their health status worse than those with lower hardship intensities. Moreover, cancer survivors with the highest level of hardship intensity also had lower levels of influenza vaccination (ages 18 to 64: 45.6% vs 52.5%; ages 65 and up: 64.6% vs 75.6%) and breast cancer screening (46.8% vs 61.2%).


“Given greater patient cost sharing and rapid development of expensive cancer treatments, the experience of medical and nonmedical financial hardship is likely to increase and may exacerbate cancer-related health disparities,” write the authors.