Financial hardship tied to higher death risk for cancer survivors, ACS study finds

A study involving data from more than 25,000 cancer survivors found those who reported medical financial hardships had a higher mortality risk than those without such hardships, according to findings published April 20 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers from the American Cancer Society used data from the 1997-2014 National Health Interview Survey and linked mortality files to identify 14,917 cancer survivors aged 18-64 and 10,391 survivors aged 65-79. Medical hardship was measured as problems affording healthcare or delaying care due to cost in the last 12 months. 

In both age groups, survivors who reported financial hardship had a higher adjusted mortality risk than their counterparts. Among survivors younger than 65, further adjustment for health insurance reduced the magnitude of association between hardship and mortality. At the same time, adjustment for supplemental Medicare coverage among survivors 65 and older had little effect. 

"Our findings underscore the protective effects of Medicare coverage and highlight the importance of comprehensive health insurance coverage in mitigating financial hardship for cancer survivors under 65," said Robin Yabroff, PhD, lead study author and the American Cancer Society's scientific vice president of health services research. "Efforts to address financial hardship as part of oncology practice and survivorship care are needed." 

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