- A 2015 report on the economic well being of U.S. households found that nearly half would not be able to cover a $400.00 emergency medical expense without having to borrow or sell something. (Singleterry, 2017)
- A median monthly out of pocket expenditure for cancer treatment is about $703.00. This is often more than the patients anticipated to pay and left many of them blindsided by the cost. (Weintraub, 2017)
- Because containing cancer requires a range of treatments – lengthy radiation, complicated surgeries, costly chemotherapy, and strong medications, it’s easy for the cost of standard cancer treatment to run in the $150,000 range. (Moore, Peter. AARP The Magazine, 2018)
It might sound strange, but if you’re diagnosed with cancer it may be a good idea to talk with a financial planner. The facts are that patients fighting cancer are twice as likely to claim bankruptcy than those who don’t. And of those who do declare bankruptcy, 80% of them succumb to the illness over those who understand their financial needs for treatment.
Doctors looking at the financials of cancer treatment call the problem “financial toxicity” and say it impacts how well cancer patients do through their treatment. Nearly half of cancer patients have been found to skip some cancer treatments because of the cost. The point of this financial toxicity is that patients who are not financially prepared to deal with cancer treatments fare worse than those who are. (Weintraub, 2017)
Isn’t it all covered by medical insurance?
Many people know about the direct cost of cancer treatment but never consider the indirect cost of cancer. But there are significant indirect costs that create problems for cancer patients and their families. These costs can be significant and add burden to the overall cost of cancer care. Some of these costs include (Singleterry, 2017):
- Wigs and other cosmetic items
- Lodging near treatment
- Transportation to appointments and pharmacy
- Special food
- Legal services
- Lost work hours
Case studies by the American Cancer Society found that even with good insurance, patients paid a considerable sum out of pocket for their care. These studies showed a person with an individual health care plan paid considerably more co-pay and co-insurance out of pocket than a person with Medicare parts A, B, and D with a Medigap policy. But Medicare and Medigap patients paid higher month to month premiums. (Singleterry, 2017)
Covering the cost of cancer treatment
Health insurance covers much of cancer treatment’s cost. But even with a good health care policy, a patient still probably looking at a bill of $4,000 or more in deductibles and copays. Even Medicare, with its lower deductibles, can leave patients on the hook for thousands in copays. But paying for treatment is only part of the story. (Moore, Peter. AARP The Magazine, 2018)
Cancer isn’t only a serious medical concern, it’s also a serious financial concern. And with cancer patients over two times more likely to declare bankruptcy, leaving them 80% more likely to die from the disease as those who do not, seeing a financial manager may be just as important as seeing a good doctor.
American Cancer Society. (2018). Cancer Facts & Figures. Retrieved from AmericanCancerSociety.org: https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2018/cancer-facts-and-figures-2018.pdf
Moore, Peter. AARP The Magazine. (2018, June/July). The High Cost of Cancer Treatment. Retrieved from AARP: https://www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/info-2018/the-high-cost-of-cancer-treatment.html
Singleterry, J. (2017, April). The Costs of Cancer Addressing Patient Cost. Retrieved from American Cancer Society: https://www.acscan.org/sites/default/files/Costs%20of%20Cancer%20-%20Final%20Web.pdf
Weintraub, A. (2017, August 10). Even Insured Patients Are Overwhelmed By The Cost Of Cancer Care. Retrieved from Forbs: https://www.forbes.com/sites/arleneweintraub/2017/08/10/even-insured-patients-are-overwhelmed-by-the-cost-of-cancer-care/#b2ed82b51c49