Patients pay more for out-of-pocket cancer care, study finds

Privately insured patients younger than 65 paid 15 percent or more in out-of-pocket costs for cancer care during a seven-year period, researchers at the American Cancer Society and the Houston-based University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found.

The results, published Sept. 13 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, shows out-of-pocket costs went up more than 15 percent for all cancers between 2009 and 2016. Breast, colorectal and lung cancer patients paid $6,000 more out of pocket in 2016, according to a Sept. 13 news release from the American Cancer Society.

The researchers examined cohorts of nearly 200,000 cancer patients diagnosed in that seven-year period using claims data from the Health Care Cost Institute.

"Unfortunately, as these data show, cancer patients are increasingly facing a dual diagnosis of cancer and cancer-related financial toxicity," Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said in the release. "High-deductible health plans along with the proliferation of inadequate short-term plans often leave patients responsible for thousands of dollars out of pocket. These costs can then compound as many patients have to reduce their work hours or some even lose their jobs due to treatment-related side effects. We need Congress to work together to find solutions that help all cancer patients afford their care."

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