Annual Out-of-Pocket Expenditures and Financial Hardship Among Cancer Survivors Aged 18-64 Years – United States, 2011-2016

Ekwueme, D. U., Zhao, J., Rim, S. H., de Moor, J. S., Zheng, Z., Khushalani, J. S., Han, X., Kent, E. E., Yabroff, K. R.

In the United States in 2019, an estimated 16.9 million persons are living after receiving a cancer diagnosis (1). These cancer survivors face many challenges, including functional limitations, serious psychological distress (2), and other lasting and late effects of cancer treatments. Because of the high cost of cancer therapy, many cancer survivors are more likely to face substantial out-of-pocket health care expenditures and financial hardship, compared with persons without a history of cancer (3,4). Out-of-pocket expenditures and financial hardship associated with cancer have been higher among survivors aged 18-64 years than they have been among older survivors (5). To estimate annual out-of-pocket expenditures and financial hardship among cancer survivors aged 18-64 years, compared with persons without a cancer history, CDC, the American Cancer Society, and the National Cancer Institute analyzed data from the 2011-2016 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).* The average annual out-of-pocket spending per person was significantly higher among cancer survivors ($1,000; 95% confidence interval [CI] = $886-$1,113) than among persons without a cancer history ($622; CI = $606-$639). Financial hardship was common; 25.3% of cancer survivors reported material hardship (e.g., problems paying medical bills), and 34.3% reported psychological hardship (e.g., worry about medical bills). These findings add to accumulating evidence documenting the financial difficulties of many cancer survivors. Mitigating the negative impact of cancer in the United States will require implementation of strategies aimed at alleviating the disproportionate financial hardship experienced by many survivors. These strategies include systematic screening for financial hardship at cancer diagnosis and throughout cancer care, integration of discussions about the potential for adverse financial consequences of treatments in shared treatment decision-making, and linkage of patients and survivors to available resources to ensure access to high-quality evidence-based care.

Health Condition(s): Cancer
Year Published: 2019
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