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Economic Burden of Cancer

Posted 6/19/2014

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  Perhaps the growing attention to the economic burdens of cancer is related to the growing concerns re health care costs. Certainly the direct expenses of cancer treatment, co-pays, high deductibles, other medical bills, may be huge, but the indirect expenses are difficult, too.

  Having cancer is expensive. Many patients cannot maintain their normal work schedules through treatment. Depending on your job and benefits, this may mean a reduced income (short term disability, for example, is rarely more than 60% of one's regular salary), no change because you have lots of sick time or a very benevolent employer, or no income at all (some jobs only pay if you show up). The extra "life" costs of cancer treatment include things like parking at the hospital, additional child care, CAM treatments like yoga or acupuncture which are rarely covered by insurance, special foods, hiring more household help--and the very normal and natural inclination to treat ourselves when life feels out of control and often very tough.

  My favorite story about treats is the following: On her way home from her umpteenth doctor's appointment, one woman's old car died. She had been thinking about replacing it for a long time, but her husband had been concerned about the cost and urged more repairs. On this particular hot day, her car stopped about half a mile from the dealership. She walked the rest of the way, entered the air-conditioned building and bought a car.

  Most of us don't indulge in lavish purchases like a car, but we surely buy flowers or new bed linens or plan a trip. As well we should.

  From the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta comes this report:

US cancer survivors face significant economic burden
Medical costs, health insurance access, and lost productivity have an impact
U.S. cancer survivors face significant economic burdens due to growing medical costs, missed work, and reduced productivity, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“Cancer survivors face physical, emotional, psychosocial, employment and financial challenges as a result of their cancer diagnosis and treatment,” said Donatus U. Ekwueme, PhD, a senior health economist at CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “With the number of cancer survivors expected to increase by more than 30 percent in the next decade – to 18 million Americans -- medical and public health professionals must be diligent in their efforts to help reduce the burden of cancer on survivors and their families.”

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