Survey finds many cancer patients skip appointments because of cost
When it comes to cancer, how to finance treatments is becoming a growing concern. A new study found that financial issues prevent many cancer patients from maintaining their necessary treatment, including attending doctor visits and buying prescriptions.
Researchers interviewed almost 2,000 patients from the North Carolina Cancer Hospital ages 18 and up who had been diagnosed with cancer at least 90 days earlier and found that 25 percent of patients surveyed said they couldn’t afford their medical care, and 18 percent revealed they don’t have the money to pay for their medication.
“You can prescribe the best drug in the world, but if patients can’t afford it, and they can’t get it, then it won’t be effective,” Dr. Greg Knight, chief fellow in the UNC School of Medicine Division of Hematology and Oncology, said in a press release. “We saw a significant portion of patients in our study who were stretching their prescriptions or not coming to the doctor’s office.”
Even more concerning is the fact that almost 12 percent of patients failed to attend doctor appointments in the past year because of high costs, according to the survey.
The most common reasons for delays in care for patients with affordability issues were a lack of health insurance (11 percent) and being unable to afford general household expenses (18 percent).
The study found prescription out-of-pocket costs have continued to rise due to deductible increases. In addition, some patients had to delay care because they couldn’t afford to take off of work and lose that income to visit their doctors. Medical officials say that cancer patients need support in every way possible – from emotional to financial – in order to handle the diagnosis.
“When you are dealing with cancer or any illness, a support group is essential,” says Dr. Preshant Joshi, an adoncologist at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “There are many issues that you will be dealing with, and the more people you have on your side looking out for you, the better path it will be.”
The study was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in June, 2016. For more information on payment options for cancer treatment, visit the American Cancer Society website.
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