Americans with cancer experience higher out-of-pocket costs than do patients with any other chronic life-threatening illness. (1)
• Patients ages 25-54 pay an average of $1,112 per month out-of-pocket.
• Each month, 21% of cancer patients cannot pay a utility bill or their monthly rent.
• Each month 25% of patients without insurance either delay or go without treatment.
Financial toxicity, defined as the patient-level impact of the cost of cancer care, is a new term in the field of oncology that describes this growing phenomenon. (2) It is measured by objective out-of-pocket expenses, as well as subjective emotional distress, associated with cancer care and treatment. (3)
Patients have reported that determining how they will pay for their treatments, and the “hidden costs” thereof, constitutes their greatest concern related to having cancer. (4) This psychosocial cost of cancer is recently (2019) the subject of clinical research. (5)
Various surveys show that as many as 47% of people with cancer in the U.S. report “catastrophic” levels of financial hardship. (6)
In a national survey of people with various types of cancer (N=509), one-third of patients ages 25-54 reported having to forfeit basic needs like groceries and transportation in order to pay for their cancer treatment. (7) In that same study:
• 21% of the respondents could not pay at least one utility bill or rent/mortgage bill.
• 5% declared bankruptcy.
• All respondents had some type of health insurance or treatment coverage, whether through Medicare, Medicaid, the A.C.A. market place, or local charity care.
• Even with health insurance, patients age 25-54 paid an average of $1,112 per month out-of-pocket.
• Patients 65 and older paid an average $536 per month out-of-pocket.
Rising co-pays, deductibles, insurance premiums, increased transportation expenses, and decreased income from time off work all contributed to this financial toxicity.
Despite drawing on savings, incurring credit card debt, borrowing money, and/or cutting costs in other areas of life, the financial burdens remain. This resulted in patients frequently postponing treatment of going without care. (8)
In a study of breast cancer patients, 8% of patients who had health insurance either delayed or did not get treatment. 25% who did not have insurance either delayed or went without treatment. Both groups cited financial burden as the reason for foregoing care. (9) (10)
With the rise in technology, medicine, and cancer treatments, many patients will live longer with cancer assuming they can access care. As our population ages, more and more people will face the financial toxicity that often accompanies cancer. (11)
1. The financial toxicity of cancer often affects patients’ ability to access or continue treatment.
2. Alleviating financial toxicity contributes to greater opportunity for cancer survival.
3. With increasingly effective cancer treatments, many patients will live longer leaving more survivors to manage long-term side effects, including financial toxicity.
Feeling Beautiful understands how high out-of-pocket expenses and the emotional distress of unpaid bills can impact cancer patients. That is why we established an affiliation with the Women’s Cancer Fund and its targeted financial assistance effort called Women’s Cancer Fund.
Women’s Cancer Fund currently gives priority to paying the essential patient-level expenses of housing and utilities for cancer patients and their families who demonstrate need.
The Women’s Cancer Fund program is administered by the Cancer Recovery Group.
Recipient Application & Verification Process
• The Women’s Cancer Fund is open for applications 1st to the 15th of each month.
• Approved applications are paid before the end of each month.
• Funding is currently limited to rent and utilities.
• Documentation, such as a past-due utility bill or past-due rent notice, is required.
• Applications are to be verified for need and submitted by healthcare personnel
[Click Here] to apply for financial assistance**
(* Note: this link leads visitors from the Call-out page to the above article starting with “Problem”)
(**Note: This link takes the visitor to: https://cancerrecovery.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/WCF-UPDATED-APPLICATION-AND-GUIDELINES-FI-Survey.docx.pdf)
- Bernard, D.S.M., Farr, S.L., & Fang, Z. (2011), Journal of Clinical Oncology.
- Zafar, S.Y., Peppercorn, J.M., Schrag, D., Taylor, D.H., (2013) The
- Zafar, S.Y., Abernathy, A.P. (2013) Oncology.
- Lilly Oncology (2012)
- Chi, M., (2017) Clinical Social Work Journal
- Chino, F., Peppercorn, J., Taylor, D.H., Lu, Y., Samsa, G., Abernathy, A., Zafar, S.Y. (2014) The Oncologist.
- Cancer Care (2016)
- deSousa, J.A., King, S.O., O’Connor, J., Yap, B.J. (2017) Journal of Oncology Practice.
- Neugent, A.I., Subar, M., Wilde, E.T., Brouse, C.H. (2017) Journal of Clinical Oncology.
- National Survey of U.S. Households Affected by Cancer (2016).
- S. Department of Health and Human Services (2017).
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