Death or Debt? National Estimates of Financial Toxicity in Persons with Newly-Diagnosed Cancer

GREED seems to be the only ‘Cure‘…

~ Foreword ~
What you are about to preview is an introduction ONLY to an intense study recently conducted and published by The American Journal of Medicine. Although we are no fans of much coming from the mainstream medical community, I have found this study to be immensely well researched and is worth your time and attention. What I find most interesting, is their addressing of the financial costs of – in effect – killing oneself – both in life and financial bankruptcy. ~ Ed.

Approximately 15.5 million Americans have a history of cancer, with an estimated 1,688,780 new cases and 609,640 deaths annually. With 87% of diagnoses occurring in persons 50 years of age, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States. Cancer’s financial burden is often substantial during treatment phases and often worsens with improving prognoses. Cancer’s direct medical costs in the United States exceed $80 billion and indirect costs of premature morbidity and mortality exceed $130 billion. With 6.5% of direct costs among nonelderly persons alone involving out-of-pocket payments, over half of all persons with cancer experienced house repossession, bankruptcy, loss of independence, and relationship breakdowns. Additionally, 40%-85% of cancer patients stop working during initial treatment, with absences ranging up to 6 months. Deductibles and copayments for treatment, supportive care, and nonmedical or indirect costs (eg, travel, caregiver time, and lost productivity) may be financially devastating even with healthcare coverage.

“Financial toxicity” involves the unintended financial consequences of medical treatment, including both objective and subjective attributes reflecting a patient’s financial burden. Clinical recommendations now suggest the assessment of economic implications of treatment algorithms and broader value assessments, whenever possible. As such, the purpose of this investigation was to assess the financial impact of cancer among the newly-diagnosed in the United States. Changes in net worth and debt (ie, consumer, mortgage, and home equity debt) were analyzed according to numerous demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical factors.

This investigation spanning an initally-estimated 9.5 million newly-diagnosed persons with cancer 50 years of age found that 42.4% of individuals depleted their life assets 2 years following diagnosis, extending to 38.2% at 4 years following. A higher odds of asset depletion at year 2 was noted among groups with known vulnerabilities, including poorer cancer status (ie, worsening cancer and requirement of continued treatment), socioeconomic factors (ie, increasing age, female sex, Medicaid, retired, and increasing household size), and clinical characteristics (ie, smoking, poorer self-reported health, hypertension, diabetes, and lung disease). Though varying associations were observed at year 4, several socioeconomic, cancer-related, and clinical characteristics remained significant predictors of complete asset depletion. As large financial burdens have been found to adversely affect access to care and outcomes, the active development of approaches to mitigate these effects among already vulnerable groups remains of key importance. (Continue to complete investigative study…)