Financial Hardship and the Economic Effect of Childhood Cancer Survivorship

Nathan, P. C., Henderson, T. O., Kirchhoff, A. C., Park, E. R., Yabroff, K. R.

In addition to the long-term physical and psychological sequelae of cancer therapy, adult survivors of childhood cancer are at an elevated risk for financial hardship. Financial hardship can have material, psychological, and behavioral effects, including high out-of-pocket medical costs, asset depletion and debt, limitations in or inability to work, job lock, elevated stress and worry, and a delaying or forgoing of medical care because of cost. Most financial hardship research has been conducted in survivors of adult cancers. The few studies focused on childhood cancer survivors have shown that these individuals are at elevated risk for having difficulties with affording needed health care and report high out-of-pocket medical expenses, difficulty with paying medical bills, or consideration of filing for bankruptcy. Childhood cancer survivors are more likely to be unable to work or to have missed work because of poor health. They are more likely to report difficulties with obtaining insurance coverage and rely more frequently on government-sponsored insurance. Globally, countries able to provide curative cancer therapies have witnessed a growing population of survivors, which places a burden on their health care systems because survivors are more likely to require hospitalization and experience a higher burden of chronic illness than the general population. Guidelines for surveillance for late effects are intended to reduce the burden of morbidity, but research is needed to determine whether such surveillance is cost effective. Of note, risk-based survivor care should include routine surveillance for financial hardship. Improved measures of financial hardship, enhanced data infrastructure, and research studies to identify survivors and families most vulnerable to financial hardship and adverse health outcomes will inform the development of targeted programs to serve as a safety net for those at greatest risk.

Health Condition(s): Cancer
Year Published: 2018
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