Women With Breast Cancer Delay Care When Faced With High Deductibles

The New York Times reports that many women are delaying medical care for breast cancer when their health insurance plans have high deductibles:

High-deductible plans have become commonplace, a deterrent used by companies to lower health care costs by discouraging unnecessary tests or treatments. Evidence for that link has mounted since the Great Recession 10 years ago, when deductibles began to soar: People increasingly deferred medical care, putting off elective surgeries and doctors’ visits. National health care spending slowed as a result.

But a recent study of women with insurance plans that carried deductibles of at least $1,000 underscores the danger to consumers required to shoulder a greater share of those costs.

Women who had just learned they had breast cancer were more likely to delay getting care if their deductibles were high, the study showed. A review of several years of medical claims exposed a pattern: Women confronting such immediate expenses put off getting diagnostic imaging and biopsies, postponing treatment.

And they delayed beginning chemotherapy by an average of seven months, said Dr. J. Frank Wharam, a Harvard researcher and one of the authors of the study, published earlier this year in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

For more information on the issues surrounding medical debt, please contact RIP Medical Debt.