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Financial Side Effects

Posted 10/23/2014

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  Having cancer is really expensive. For all too many families, having cancer is a financial catastrophe. Clearly it makes a difference what the state of your finances is prior to diagnosis. If you have a good job with good benefits, some savings, and an established household, you probably are going to have a smoother time than someone without those assets.

  Money troubles can come at you from several directions: loss of income, medical expenses that are not covered by insurance, other new expenses like parking at the hospital, extra childcare, hiring household help. There are a number of funds that can be helpful to people going through cancer treatment, but none of them will be able to fully solve the problem. The easiest way to find out what might be available is to speak with an oncology social worker. In our group, we have a wonderful Community Resource Specialist who is the expert about all these things. If you are treated at BIDMC, she can help you.

  Related to the conversations on the rising cost of health care, there is increasing attention being paid to the financial burden for patients and their families. This is a good article from Cancer Net:

The Serious Financial Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

October 21, 2014 · Amber Bauer, ASCO staff

After being diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, a high school teacher struggles with figuring out how he will pay for his cancer treatment and keep from going broke. Although this is the basis for the hugely popular TV series Breaking Bad, for many people living with cancer, figuring out how to deal with the financial fallout of cancer and cancer treatment is a stark reality.

Almost a third of cancer survivors in the United States may be experiencing financial or work-related hardships, according to the results of a study that will be presented at this weekend’s Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium. Of the nearly 1,600 cancer survivors surveyed, 27% reported at least one financial problem, such as debt or bankruptcy. In addition, 37% said they had to modify their work plans, such as taking extended time off or delaying retirement, because of cancer treatment.

“We found that many cancer survivors, particularly those who are younger or from underserved populations, experience financial or work-related hardship—even when insured and years out from treatment,” said lead study author Robin Whitney, RN, BSN, a cancer survivor and PhD student at the University of California, Davis, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.


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