The Money Conversation

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

NOVEMBER 13, 2017

First, I am back and mostly glad to be home. Not so glad to have left 75 degree weather and glorious blue skies and some beach time. Cyprus turned out to be a beautiful and fascinating island; I would definitely recommend putting it on your list.

And now back to work. Today's entry is about the difficult conversation regarding costs/prices that you should be having with your doctor. We all know that sex and money are tough and tricky topics, but they both sometimes need honest discussion. As the cost of cancer drugs has risen, so have co-pays and the limits on deductibles. We are all paying more, and we are sometimes paying for some things that may bring little or no additional value.

From Cancer Net comes this excellent piece by Dr. Lidia Schapira. Remind yourself that this conversation is awkward for our doctors, too! Hard for them because they too often don't actually know the price of drugs and because they didn't become doctors in order to think about money, but, rather, to take care of people. A reminder to them is that taking care of people includes giving some thought to expenses and value.

Here is the start and a link to read the full Cancer.Net article:

Talking about Cost with Your Health Care Team

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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