The cost of cancer treatment may be one of the first worries that crosses someone’s mind when he or she receives a cancer diagnosis. Fears over how to pay—and even if they can pay—for quality care shouldn’t be top of mind for those dealing with life-threatening illnesses but, unfortunately, that is a reality for far too many people.
Research has consistently found that cancer patients face serious risk to their financial well-being because of their care. It’s difficult to determine the average cost of cancer treatment—as each person’s insurance, diagnosis and treatment is different—but one study found that patients were paying, on average, 11 percent of their income in out-of-pocket treatment costs. Sixteen percent of those surveyed reported significant financial distress, and that was despite 60 percent of those individuals having health insurance. Where exactly does all the money go?
What are the out of pocket costs of cancer treatment?
- Co-pays: Visiting doctors and specialists on a regular basis can amass a significant number of office co-pays.
- Treatment: From pill regimens to chemotherapy, many patients are expected to pay at least part of treatment costs out of pocket.
- Testing: With high-deductible plans so common these days, the routine testing before, during and after cancer treatment can come with a high price tag.
- Lifestyle changes: Many patients overlook the lost wages that stem from reduced working hours that are often necessary during and after treatment.
- Transportation: Getting to and from medical appointments can be costly, as patients often have to enroll in transportation services or rely on rideshare options when loved ones aren’t available.
The American Cancer Society’s Costs of Cancer report found that the average cost of cancer treatment per person ranged from $6,000-$10,000 annually—and that doesn’t include additional fees for out-of-network physicians and treatments, nor does it take into account those who are uninsured, whose financial burden would be significantly greater.
Finances are stressful enough, but for those also dealing with a medical crisis, financial worries can take a significant toll on physical and mental wellness. Financial resources for cancer patients can reduce some of that burden, freeing up cancer patients to focus on where they should be spending their time and energy: getting healthy.