Out-of-Pocket Costs Cause Problems for Survivors of Childhood Cancer

A new study finds that adult survivors of childhood cancer face an increased likelihood of financial difficulties related to out-of-pocket costs for their health care, compared with adults not affected by childhood cancer.

These survivors were more than eight times more likely to have trouble paying their medical bills than adults without a history of childhood cancer.

From Science Codex:

“Survivors who reported spending a higher percentage of their income on out-of-pocket medical costs were not only more likely to report financial burden, they also were at risk for undertaking behaviors potentially detrimental to their health in order to save money,” says Ryan Nipp, MD, MGH Cancer Center, lead and corresponding author. “While studies have identified associations between financial burden and patients’ treatment outcomes, quality of life and even survival among adults with cancer, as far as we know, this is the first to report these associations in survivors of childhood cancer.”

Successful treatment of childhood cancers has led to an increase in the number of adult survivors, but studies also have reported that these individuals are at elevated risk for chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, kidney impairment, and secondary cancers. Many health care plans have increased the out-of-pocket costs for which patients are responsible through cost-sharing measures such as increased deductibles, copayments or coinsurance. The current study was designed to investigate the extent to which increased out-of-pocket health care costs pose a financial burden to survivors of childhood cancer and their potential consequences.

Survivors reporting higher out-of-pocket health care costs were more likely to have lower incomes.