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PatientEngagementHIT: Out-of-Pocket Healthcare Costs Problem for 25% of Cancer Survivors

A quarter of cancer survivors experience high financial burden and out-of-pocket healthcare costs, even after entering remission, prompting calls for payment reforms to mitigate the impact of healthcare costs, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The report, which leveraged Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data from between 2011 and 2016, revealed that 25 percent of the nearly 17 million cancer survivors in the US face high material costs for their care. Material costs include the financial costs of a condition, such as paying medical bills or borrowing money from other sources to pay those bills. These findings underscore the importance of discussing healthcare costs with patients, said lead author Jalpa A. Doshi, PhD, a professor of General Internal Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine. Should a doctor disclose just how much a cancer medication will cost, she and her patient can discuss the feasibility of the medication and identify a lower-cost option. The results also suggest a more pervasive problem in the medical industry: drug costs are unaffordably high. While providers and patients can work to identify the best low-cost option available, industry leaders must also reexamine the fundamental cost of treatments. “Patients in our study were facing a new cancer diagnosis or a change in their disease that required a new treatment,” said Doshi, who is also director of Value-Based Insurance Design Initiatives at the Leonard Davis Institute’s Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics. “Imagine leaving your doctor’s office with a plan, ready to start treatment, only to find you can’t afford it. It adds more stress at what is already a stressful and scary time.” Read more at PatientEngagmentHIT.

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