Another Side Effect of Cancer Treatment: Medical Debt

Sarah Happy writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer that after battling cancer she was left with another side effect from the treatment: massive medical debt.

In order to live, I needed six months of chemotherapy, bi-weekly doctor appointments, two months of radiation, and a cocktail of medications. My anti-nausea drugs alone cost $80 a pill, and I took up to four a day. I had insurance, and although it covered my chemo and surgeries, it did not cover doctor appointments or prescriptions.

At the end of my treatments, I was declared cancer free. But now I was living with another condition caused by cancer: I was in serious debt.

She notes that her story is not exceptional and that many survivors grapple with cancer’s additional costly effects, “which can include heart, lung, and hormone problems, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, chronic pain, neuropathy, memory problems, and fatigue. Even those lucky enough to avoid these problems need constant surveillance to watch for a recurrence, or a new cancer altogether.”

“With more people surviving cancer, we will have more people struggling to manage the cost of cancer over their lifetime.”