Fear of Debt Keeps Cancer Survivors From Getting Medical Care

A published work “Forgoing Medical Care Because of Cost” examines the issues facing cancer survivors in being able to afford continued access to medical care.

The study found

Cancer treatment may result in financial hardship, and an inability to afford medical copayments, prescription medications, and medical services perceived as nonessential (eg, dental and mental healthcare). In addition, cancer-related employment changes, may result in loss of health insurance coverage, and survivors who qualify for government insurance may lose this coverage once their initial treatment is complete.

The study estimates that greater than 2 million of the estimated 10 to 12 million cancer survivors who were living in the United States during the period of the survey (2003- 2006) did not receive 1 or more needed medical service because of concerns about cost. The prevalence of forgoing care among cancer survivors (7.8% forgo medical care, and 9.9% forgo prescription medications) is greater than that reported for the US population in general (5.2% and 7.2%, respectively, for the year 2005).14 Lack of access to medical care among cancer survivors is a significant public health concern given the importance of regular medical care for cancer survivors and their growing numbers.

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