A quarter of cancer survivors struggle to pay medical bills, CDC finds

Twenty-five percent of cancer survivors have trouble with out-of-pocket medical expenses, which are usually significantly higher than for people without a history of cancer, according to a report from the CDC.

For its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers led by Donatus Ekwueme, PhD, of the CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, estimated annual out-of-pocket expenses for cancer survivors aged 18 to 64. The researchers used data from the 2011-16 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

What they found is that cancer survivors spend between $886 and $1,113 each year on out-of-pocket costs. Comparatively, people who have never had cancer spend between $606 and $639 annually on out-of-pocket medical expenses. Additionally, about a third of cancer patients worry about medical bills, especially those who are uninsured.

To mitigate the negative financial effects of surviving cancer, the researchers proposed:

- Systematic screening for financial hardship at cancer diagnosis and throughout cancer care
- Integration of discussions about the potential for adverse financial consequences of treatments
- Linking patients and survivors to available resources

Read more here.

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