Cancer Survivors Avoiding Needed Medical Care Due to Cost

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

According to analysis of new data, cancer survivors are avoiding needed medical care because they just cannot afford it. The data, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research conference on the Science of Health Care Disparities, reveals that Hispanics and African-Americans are twice as likely to neglect medical needs due to cost concerns.

According to Kathryn Weaver, Ph.D., a cancer prevention fellow at the National Cancer Institute, "These survivors are either going without, or significantly delaying, dental care, general medical care, mental health care or prescription drugs." Medical insurance has little impact, because of co-pays and high deductibles. According to Dr. Weaver, "There are significant out-of-pocket expenses, even for those with insurance."

The researchers identified 6,602 adult cancer survivors from CDC statistics. They found the prevalence of avoiding costly medical care was 11.3 percent for dental care, 9.9 percent for prescription medication, 7.8 percent for regular medical services, and 2.7 percent for behavioral health care. Statistics came from the Center for Disease Control's National Health Interview Survey, which includes 30,000 to 40,000 households annually.


The data also showed that African-Americans were 87 percent more likely to avoid the cost associated with medical prescriptions, and 57 percent more likely to neglect dental care. Hispanics were more than twice as likely to go without prescriptions and dental care when compared to non-Hispanic whites.

Dr. Weaver says, "Efforts to expand insurance coverage might go some way toward addressing these problems, but absent that, clinicians need to be more aware that their patients are not getting these services and work to try to connect them to charity or low-cost care."

The data shows that the cancer survivors consider healthcare important. The price of healthcare is too costly, causing many to forgo medical necessities. Furthermore, minorities are especially vulnerable to the high cost of medical care.

More Than a Million Cancer Survivors Declining Care Due to Cost Concerns, Minorities Especially Vulnerable (