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The inability to pay for essential medical care is not just a problem for people who lack health insurance. If you’re covered by insurance, whether through an employer or through Medicare, you can be overwhelmed by the costs of prescriptions and treatment.
The impact on cancer patients is especially burdensome, in part, because out-of-pocket (OOP) costs for specialty cancer medications are particularly high. This can lead to choices no one should have to make.
According to a recent PAN Foundation brief, a review of 45 studies on financial hardship among cancer survivors showed that:
If you have Medicare and are diagnosed with cancer, the financial impact can be catastrophic. Although Medicare beneficiaries can fund prescriptions by purchasing coverage or selecting a “Part D” drug plan, research demonstrates that OOP prescription costs are a serious problem for many Medicare beneficiaries.
Demographics data indicates that only 24% of the Medicare population is economically secure. For the majority who aren’t, health-related expenses consume a larger share of their resources. Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that Medicare beneficiaries’ OOP spending on healthcare—as a percentage both of Social Security income and total income—is increasing. In fact, the report showed that as a share of per capita Social Security income, OOP healthcare spending will increase from 41% in 2013 to a projected 50% in 2030, a staggering and insupportable number.
What can be done to reduce this burden? At The Ghosh Center, we’re committed to working with each of our patients to obtain funding for OOP costs, but many people don’t have access to this assistance. The PAN Foundation, an organization that helps insured people cover prescription costs, advocates for thoughtful and sustainable policy-based solutions. The strategies they advocate include: