Expensive Post Recovery Care – A Bane for Cancer Survivors

A recent study on cancer survivors has revealed that the younger survivors are avoiding medical care owing to costs.

In addition to the trauma associated with cancer, its survivors face a lifelong financial crisis due to the follow up medications and diagnostic visits at regular intervals.

They are affected by the associated expenses even with health insurance provisions. The study has put the number of such survivors as high as 67%.


Research at the Huntsman Cancer Institute

The research publication is slated to be released in the October issue of the journal Cancer. The paper is based on research by scientist Anne Kirchhoff and her colleagues from the Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City.

The sample group consisted of 979 young adults in the age group of 20-39 years; all suffered from cancer and have survived it for at least 5 years since then. They were compared to a control group of 67,216 with no history of cancer. Among the participants, the number of cancer survivors who were uninsured was almost same as the number without cancer.

Outcomes of the study

In such a scenario, the review of the statistical data obtained from these participants revealed that:

  1. Younger adults, adolescents, females and those with poorer health after surviving their tryst with cancer skipped many tests and follow up visits to the doctor due to the escalating costs of medical care.
  2. Cost as a barrier to continuing routine medical care was discovered among 44% of the younger survivors as against 35% among female survivors. Those with poorer health after their survival also reported cost barriers as their reason for avoiding medical care.
  3. Even those with existing insurance covers are finding it difficult to cover the extra expenses they incur over and above the cover provided. They report that this extra expense is increasing with each passing year, making it impossible for them to keep up with their prescribed medical schedules. As a result they visit the doctor only when it is absolutely essential making it difficult to detect relapses in the early stages.

Recommendations of the author

Dr Kirchhoff says that this cost barrier is posing a major threat to the well being of many cancer survivors. She feels that just increasing the health insurance cover of cancer survivors will not solve the problem.

The main and long-term solution to the issue lies in providing affordable healthcare access to these survivors. The health department must place focus on bringing down the costs of such treatments so that they can be less burdened financially.