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Having the Cancer Cost Conversation

Posted 11/29/2017

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  This is the time of year that many of us sign up for next year's health insurance and, hopefully, read the small print about our new plans. It has been shocking--actually that is not the right word, it has been upsetting--how many people are facing much higher deductibles and co-pays and uncovered costs. It surely is not getting cheaper or easier to have good health insurance. Even a few of my patients who have until-now excellent Federal plans, have been horrified by their higher costs.

  I include myself in the "next year will be more expensive" group, and I know that I am fortunate to have really excellent insurance. This is an introduction to a really helpful article from CancerNet  about how to have this conversation with your doctor.

 It feels highly unfair that someone facing scary and daunting cancer treatment has to also be concerned about scary and daunting bills. And I can promise you that your doctor has a general awareness of the high cost of drugs, but probably does not know the specifics about your treatment and your insurance. This article may help.

Having the Cancer Cost Conversation: 5 Places to Start

Lidia Schapira, MD

People who are facing a crisis need to speak with someone who they
know and trust. We all need information, support, and guidance to make
good decisions, and this especially applies when you choose a treatment
plan for cancer. In today’s world, how much each cancer treatment will
cost is an important part of these discussions. Prices of cancer
treatments have risen dramatically in recent years and some can cost
thousands of dollars per month, increasing the burdens on people living
with cancer and their families.
The recent National Cancer Opinion Survey (,
commissioned by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, shows that
some people have to make difficult choices because of the cost of cancer
treatment. The survey revealed that 27% of Americans who have cancer
or have a family member with cancer have taken steps to lower their
treatment costs, including skipping appointments (9%), refusing treatment
(8%), not filling prescriptions (8%), skipping medication doses (8%), and cutting pills in half (7%). These
actions can endanger the health of people with cancer.

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