Financial burden of cancer care under the Affordable Care Act: Analysis of MEPS-Experiences with Cancer Survivorship 2011 and 2016

Hong, Y. R., Smith, G. L., Xie, Z., Mainous, A. G., 3rd, Huo, J.

PURPOSE: To examine whether the implementation of Affordable Care Act (ACA) reduced the financial burden associated with cancer care among non-elderly cancer survivors. METHODS: Using data from the MEPS-Experiences with Cancer Survivorship Survey, we examined whether there was a difference in financial burden associated with cancer care between 2011 (pre-ACA) and 2016 (post-ACA). Two aspects of financial burden were considered: (1) self-reported financial burden, whether having financial difficulties associated with cancer care and (2) high-burden spending, whether total out-of-pocket (OOP) spending incurred in excess of 10% or 20% of family income. Generalized linear regression models were estimated to adjust the OOP expenditures (reported in 2016 US dollar). RESULTS: Our sample included adults aged 18-64 with a confirmed diagnosis of any cancer in 2011 (n = 655) and in 2016 (n = 490). There was no apparent difference in the prevalence of cancer survivors reporting any financial hardship or being with high-burden spending between 2011 and 2016. The mean OOP decreased by $268 (95% CI, - 384 to - 152) after the ACA. However, we found that the mean premium payments increased by $421 (95% CI, 149 to 692) in the same period. CONCLUSIONS: The ACA was associated with reduced OOP for health services but increased premium contributions, resulting in no significant impact on perceived financial burden among non-elderly cancer survivors. IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: The financial hardship of cancer survivorship points to the need for the development of provisions that help cancer patients reduce both perceived and materialized burden of cancer care under ongoing health reform.

Topic(s): Economic Burden
Health Condition(s): Cancer
Year Published: 2019
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