Medicare Cost For Cancer Treatment Reaches 21 Billion

Armen Hareyan's picture

Cancer treatment takes heavy toll on Medicare topping $21.1 billion a year.

A study by National Cancer Institute examined data from 1999 to 2003 about Medicare costs. Study involved 718907 older people receiving cancer treatment and 1623651 cancer free people. All of them were Medicare covered.

The report shows that the more expensive cancer treatment becomes than more money Medicare spends. The study is the first one to examine both cancer treatment costs and survival data. The study examined 18 common types of cancer and found that nervous system cancers are the most costly ones.


Report found that the most costly cancer types among Medicare covered women are lung ($2 billion), colorectal ($1.6 billion) and breast ($1.4 billion) cancers. Cancer treatment costs for men are mainly spent on prostate ($2.3 billion), lung ($2.2 billion) and colorectal ($1.5 billion) cancers. In 2004 Medicare spent $72.1 billion on overall cancer treatment.

Overall, Medicare spending can cost from $20000 for breast cancer or melanoma patients to $40000 for nervous system cancer patients for a five year treatment. Common cancer treatment cost rises happen during the first and the last 12 months of the disease. During the first 12 months costs are high because of more aggressive and expensive treatments, and during the last months because of hospitalization costs.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program covering people aged from 65. There are currently new and innovative cancer treatments available, but they are too expensive and those covered with Medicare can not afford these treatments. However, some types are getting more aggressive and people can't do without these treatments.

Medicare spends more as cancer treatment is becoming more expensive and the program will spend even more as baby boomers generation ages.


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