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Cancer Survivors Say Costs Keep Them From Care
Date:2/4/2009

Insured or not, patients forgo medical needs twice as often as others, study finds ,,

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Unmanageable health-care costs are forcing millions of insured and uninsured cancer survivors in the United States to go without the medical attention they need, a new analysis reveals.

What's more, the study indicates that Hispanic and African-American cancer survivors are twice as likely as white survivors to forgo crucial care because of financial impediments.

"We're estimating that approximately 2 million cancer survivors do not get the medical care that they need because of concerns about cost," said Kathryn E. Weaver, a cancer prevention fellow in the Office of Cancer Survivorship at the National Cancer Institute and the study's lead author.

"And the majority of these patients do have some kind of insurance coverage," she noted. "So this is typically about the burden of deductibles for health insurance plans, co-pays that can be thousands and thousands of dollars a year, the loss in productivity that comes with taking time off from work and transportation costs to get back and forth to care."

In fact, Weaver said, cancer survivors younger than 65 were almost twice as likely to go without needed health care as were people that age who'd never had cancer.

The cancer institute researchers were expected to present their findings this week at the American Association for Cancer Research conference on the Science of Health Care Disparities in Carefree, Ariz.

The cited figure of 2 million makes up almost 17 percent of the estimated 12 million Americans currently living -- often for many years -- with a cancer diagnosis.

The estimate is based on a review of data collected between 2003 and 2006 by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention's annual "National Health Interview Survey" of 30,000 to 40,000 American households.

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