Challenges for Cancer Patients: Costs, Delays, and Conversations

March 9, 2017

What are the biggest barriers to health care for cancer patients?

The Cancer Support Community did a study in late 2016 to explore this question and found that people with cancer face challenges with costs and delays in health care. The study asked participants about their access to insurance, services, and providers, and direct and indirect costs of treatment. By surveying over 1,200 participants who currently have, or have had cancer, we found that a significant number of cancer patients have to skip out on some health care services or prescriptions due to high out-of-pocket costs. Also, cost of treatment is not always discussed between doctors and patients, so many cancer patients go into treatment without knowing what they will have to pay for their care.

From the study Access to Care in Cancer: Barriers and Challenges, CSC found:

  • 18 % of the cancer patients surveyed said costs prevented them from filling the prescription drugs necessary to treat their cancer
  • 22 % chose not to get some of their health care services due to high out-of-pocket costs
  • 68 % of patients did not discuss costs with their health care team prior to treatment, yet 43% of patients reported that their out of pocket costs were higher than expected.
  • 25 % reported experiencing delays in accessing cancer care (scheduling tests and medical procedures, receiving referrals, getting responses from their healthcare team, and obtaining prescriptions)

Over the first weekend of March, CSC was proud to present its findings from this study at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Quality Care Symposium. The full poster and abstract are available online.

For more information, check out our website.

If you are interested in sharing information about your own cancer experience, please consider joining the Cancer Experience Registry at: