Millions of cancer patients are skipping treatments because of cost, putting long-term health and well-being at risk.
An analysis conducted by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center shows that two out of 12 million adult cancer survivors have skipped treatment in the previous year due to financial reasons.
Among cancer survivors, 7.8 percent went without some kind of medical care, 9.9 percent without prescription medications, 11.3 percent without dental care, and 2.7 percent went without mental health care.
Cancer patients under age 65 (when Medicare kicks in) were one and a half to two times more likely to have put off medical care. Hispanic and black cancer survivors were more likely to go without prescription medications and dental care than white survivors.
Breast and prostate cancer survivors are least likely to do without; cervical cancer and melanoma survivors are most likely to skip medical care.
Low income women often do not take prescribed hormonal treatment as part of their breast cancer treatment, possibly lowering their survival rates.
In addition to uninsured cancer patients, insured cancer survivors are also having a tough time with high deductibles and co-pays for continuing treatment.
The study authors concluded that “future research needs to examine the impact of forgoing care on survivors’ quality of life and survival.”
Study team leader Kathryn Weaver also noted that it will
be interesting to observe how recent health care reform efforts might impact access to care for cancer survivors.
The National Center for Health Statistics says that 15.4 percent of Americans lacked health insurance in 2009, compared to 14.7 percent in 2008.
That won’t change much over the next several years, but once
The Patient Affordable Health Care Act is fully implemented in 2014, the new law is expected to expand health insurance coverage to an additional 32 million Americans.
A separate study by Dr. Anthony S. Robbins of the American Cancer Society showed that disparities in cancer stage and treatments are the main reasons Medicaid and uninsured patients are twice as likely to die within five years as privately insured patients.
Because the lower survival rate for rectal cancer patients without private insurance is largely due to later diagnosis and inadequate treatment, disparities may be lessened through health care reform — improving insurance coverage and reducing financial barriers to treatment.
We are still a country in crisis.
ACS CAN, the nonprofit advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, says that more than 1.5 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer and approximately 569,490 will die from the disease in 2010.
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