Cancer remains the second leading cause of death among Americans. Statistics estimate that there will be 1.9 million new cases of cancer in the US this year and approximately 610,000 deaths attributable to cancer in 2021. Any kind of medical care in the US is expensive but the cost of cancer treatment seems to be in a class of its own.
- Cost of Cancer Treatment The cost of cancer treatment in America is alarming, even for those with insurance. The initial diagnosis of cancer can be very emotional and scary, but then to add on the fear of how the cost of care will affect your life and family. There is, of course, the cost of medical visits to see oncologists and other specialists. Add to that the cost of tests, medical procedures, chemo or radiation, and the high price of medications, and you quickly realize the cost adding up. These services can quickly reach the thousands within months of a cancer diagnosis. Even the high deductibles associated with cheaper policies quickly begin to pale in comparison to the other bills that begin to arrive. Reports indicate that half of America’s cancer survivors have accrued a medical debt of at least $10,000, while some have medical bills reaching into the millions.
- Tough Choices Many times, insurance does not cover the recommended treatments or medications and patients have to start making tough choices. Do I let go of my car? How do I get to my chemo appointment without a car? Do I sell my home to cover the costs of my care? How will I pay for these things now that I have been out of work for months?
Big Think reported that over half of all cancer patients in the US have experienced bankruptcy, repossession, loss of relationships, or loss of independence.
- Crippling Debt Sometimes cancer patients can find financial help by talking with a hospital social worker or seeking out assistance through a charitable group or foundation. The American Journal of Medicine reports that 42% of new cancer patients lose their life savings (which, for this study, averaged over $90,000). A significant number of cancer patients file for bankruptcy because the cost of cancer treatment is so high and they see no possible way to pay them. If you are a cancer patient and your medical insurance is through your employer, then if you lose your job you may also lose your insurance, compounding an already dreadful set of circumstances.
- Dealing with Cancer Debt Crowdfunding sites and fundraisers can help alleviate the cost of medical debt associated with cancer treatment but not completely. There are charitable groups and foundations that will help with providing support with various types of expenses, such as covering out of pocket costs of healthcare services or support with the cost of utility bills, transportation, groceries and rent for patients. Oncology social workers are also a great source of information about financial options and assistance for issues such as depression or anxiety.
Surviving cancer may mean a subsequent financial battle but there are options to help you manage the debt that follows a diagnosis. If you are fighting cancer, please know that there is help out there to help you fight the debt that comes with cancer. Our team is here to help you. Connect with us today to learn more.