Many are skipping follow-up care as they are finding the expense to be prohibitive.
A recent health insurance study has shown that young people who have survived cancer are commonly deciding not to take part in follow-up care because they are not able to afford the associated costs.
The results of this research were published in the Cancer journal.
The study examined the care progress of survivors of cancer between the ages of 20 and 39 years old. What they determined was that 67 percent who had never had a previous diagnosis of the disease were likely to forgo medical care due to the expense involved. This was the case regardless of whether or not they were covered by health insurance.
With or without health insurance, follow-up care is vital to cancer survivors in case the disease should return.
Moreover, beyond making certain that these patients remain cancer free, follow up treatments are also highly important in order to monitor for side effects from the treatments, themselves, such as chemotherapy and radiation.
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According to pediatrician Anna Franklin, MD, who is also with the Houston, Texas based MD Anderson Cancer Center, “The level of medical care that’s required is much greater than for your typical 20- or 30-year-old who may go to the doctor once a year and have a few lab tests done.” Franklin is the director of the adolescent and young adult program at the center, but was not specifically involved in the study.
Anderson did explain, though, that the results of the study clearly reflect the type of struggles that she sees among many of her own patients. It is common for them to have health insurance, but their coverage involves high deductibles or co-payments that can make it impossible for them to be able to afford the frequent medical care that they require.
Franklin pointed out that just because a patient happens to have health insurance, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have any out of pocket costs that they will need to cover. She also pointed out that in cases of cancer follow up treatments, the frequent doctor visits and tests can cause the costs to add up very quickly. This, at a time when they have already been paying out for the primary cancer treatments.