The Financial Impact of Cancer on patients

The American Cancer Society and the Kaiser Foundation have published a report on the financial impact of cancer on patients and their families. It notes 5 major issues:

1. “High cost-sharing, caps on benefits leave cancer patients vulnerable. The various types of cost-sharing and limits on benefits found in some insurance plans may quickly lead to high out-of-pocket costs once cancer treatment begins.” Medicynical note Cost sharing does force patients to factor cost into decisions. However, because of the huge expenses to patients and their families, cost sharing may adversely affect the access of some patients to treatment. Thoughtlessly implemented cost sharing is a blunt instrument that is not appropriate as a strategy to limit costs.

2. “Those with employer-sponsored coverage may not be protected from catastrophically high health care costs if they become too sick to work.” Medicynical note: Our system is carefully designed to eliminate and/or downgrade patient insurance coverage if a person becomes so sick they can’t work. Marquis de Sade could not have done better.

3. “Cancer patients and survivors are often unable to find adequate and affordable coverage in the individual market.” Medicynical Note: Rating individuals rather than populations, a long standing goals of insurers, guarantees profits while undermining care. When you become sick, insurance rates increase to the point where you can’t afford it. We have a carefully calculated money making system for insurers, not a benevolent caring health care system.

4. “High-risk insurance pools are not available to all cancer patients, and some find the premiums difficult to afford.” Medicynical note: More of the same. We have more safeguards for insurers than patients.

5. “Waiting periods, strict restrictions on eligibility, or delayed application for public programs can leave people who are too ill to work without an affordable insurance option.” Medicynical note: Ditto. Even where our system has programs to fill gaps they are designed to limit access.

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