Earlier this summer, a study (link to .pdf) in the journal CANCER showed that more than two million cancer survivors skipped out on medical services in the previous year because of financial concerns. The most recent issue of the AARP Bulletin features one such patient - a Californian breast cancer survivor who isn't able to afford the medication, imaging tests and lab work ordered by her oncologist - and discusses the growing problem:
Cancer has always been devastating to mind, body and finances. "But we're hearing more and more of these stories than we used to," says Anna McCourt, a supervisor at the National Cancer Information Center, a round-the-clock call center operated by the American Cancer Society (phone: 1-800-227-2345).
"People say they must choose between getting care or meeting daily living expenses-putting food on the table and paying their mortgages and utility bills," she says. "Because of out-of-pocket costs, they're avoiding tests they know they need, they're taking half doses of medication to make it last longer. But if you freeze because you can't afford heat this winter, cancer medication isn't going to be that helpful anyway."
The piece goes on to discuss how the new health law, which includes a program for people with preexisting conditions who haven't been able to buy affordable insurance, will benefit survivors.