Delaying Care Because of Money

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

MAY 07, 2018

  Today's article from The New York Times is not one bit surprising, but it surely is distressing. It is about women with newly diagnosed breast cancer who delay going forward with suggested treatment because of anticipated medical bills. Obviously this is not only true for women with breast cancer, but applies equally to people with any new cancer diagnosis. Most cancers are not an emergency in the same way that a heart attack or stroke might be. Yes, leukemia often is critically emergent, and there are a few other exceptions, but it usually won't make any difference in the long run if someone waits a few weeks or, maybe, even longer. That does not make it okay.

  I know what life is like in the immediate aftermath of a cancer diagnosis. The fear and the sadness can be, and usually are, overwhelming. We all think that the diagnosis means that we will die, and we likely think of little else. I tell people that this period may not be a medical emergency, but it is often a mental health emergency. Adding worries about how to pay the medical bills only makes things even worse. Many people have very high deductibles and co-pays, and it is not hard to quickly run up thousands of dollars worth of bills. Please, if this is your situation, remember that there are resources that can help. Ask to speak with someone at your doctor's office or hospital about financial assistance. In addition to help from the office, there may well be community resources that can assist with bills. A financial navigator or community resource specialist can give you more information. You can also check out the Cancer Care website: If you scroll through it, you will find a link to an excellent guide to financial resources for cancer patients.

  And here is the article. I give you the start and a link to read more:

Women With Breast Cancer Delay Care
When Faced With High Deductibles

By Reed Abelson

When Pam Leonard felt a lump in her breast last November, she hesitated, debating whether to get testing to see if she had
She thought of her insurance policy, which carries a deductible of $2,600. She knew she would also have to spend as much as
$5,700 on medical bills that would not be covered by an individual policy she bought under the Affordable Care Act. “I went back
and forth for a couple of weeks,” Ms. Leonard recalled.
“I had to do something,” she said. “It didn’t go away.”
She eventually got a mammogram and ultrasound, confirming a cancer diagnosis. That led to a lumpectomy and weeks of
chemotherapy. Ms. Leonard, 58, a teacher in Kenosha, Wis., will soon begin radiation treatment.
High‑deductible plans have become commonplace, a deterrent used by companies to lower health care costs by discouraging
unnecessary tests or treatments. Evidence for that link has mounted since the Great Recession 10 years ago, when deductibles
began to soar: People increasingly deferred medical care, putting off elective surgeries and doctors’ visits. National health care
spending slowed as a result.
But a recent study of women with insurance plans that carried deductibles of at least $1,000 underscores the danger to consumers
required to shoulder a greater share of those costs.

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