Navigation Links
Medicare Costs Soar for Cancer Care

Expenditures will continue to rise as the population ages, experts say

TUESDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- Treating elderly cancer patients for five years costs Medicare $21.1 billion, and these costs are expected to increase dramatically as the population ages, a new study says.

The costs for treating patients varies by type of cancer, with expenditures highest for lung, colorectal and prostate tumors, said the researchers, who based their estimates on patients diagnosed with cancer in 2004.

"Because the U.S. population is aging and growing, we think that these costs are going to get higher in the future," said lead researcher Robin Yabroff, an epidemiologist at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. "We think there are going to be a lot more cancer patients in the future."

"The main goal of this study," Yabroff added, "was to provide cost of care estimates that could be useful for policy makers and health planners and researchers that might want to do cost-effectiveness analyses."

The findings are published in the April 29 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

For the study, Yabroff's team estimated the cost of cancer care among 718,907 cancer patients and compared that to 1,623,651 people without cancer. The researchers used data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) and SEER-linked Medicare files to identify these patients.

The researchers then subtracted Medicare costs for people without cancer from costs among those with cancer. The resulting number was the estimated cost of cancer care per person.

Costs varied over five years from about $20,000 for people with breast cancer or melanoma to $40,000 for people with lymphoma, brain or other cancers of the nervous system, as well as malignancies of the esophagus, ovaries or stomach.

The study authors found that costs were highest during the first year of treatment and also during the last year of life. Patients are more likely to be hospitalized during the last year of life, which increases costs, Yabroff said.

"We also found the cost of care is generally higher for patients diagnosed with a later stage disease, compared with patients diagnosed with earlier stage disease," Yabroff said.

To help contain costs, Yabroff suggested that more emphasis be placed on cancer screening and early diagnosis, as well as lifestyle changes, such as not smoking.

Paul Precht, policy director at the Medicare Rights Center, said he thinks Medicare will have to change some of its policies to keep costs down while continuing to offer care to the elderly with cancer.

"Clearly, treatment of cancer is expensive," he said. "When people talk about the sustainability of Medicare, they have to look at findings like this, because we are paying for treatments of very serious diseases, and that's why it's so expensive."

Precht agreed that one way to lower costs is to put more emphasis on early detection and increase Medicare benefits for prevention. Also, federal law needs to be changed to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies, he said.

"The cost of cancer drugs is going through the roof," he said. "Medicare really has to look at ways to deal with that."

People are already paying high co-payments and coinsurance for care under Medicare, and these costs are likely to grow, Precht added. And as those costs increase, it could reach a breaking point. "People will say: 'Yes, I want to live, but I don't have the money, so I guess I'm not going to,' and that's not right," he said.

Increasing costs don't necessarily lead to the rationing of health care, Precht said. "But there needs to be cost-effectiveness analysis, so there is some relationship to the effectiveness of the treatment we are paying for," he said.

More information

To learn about financial assistance and other resources for people with cancer, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

SOURCES: Robin Yabroff, Ph.D., epidemiologist, U.S. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.; Paul Precht, policy director, Medicare Rights Center, Washington, D.C.; April 29, 2008, Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. GAO Report Confirms: Medicare Underpays for Anesthesia Services; Nurse Anesthetists Assure Seniors Access to Safe Anesthesia Care
2. Texas Supreme Court Rules Against Medicare HMOs in Hospital Reimbursement Fight
3. Owner and Operator of Florida Durable Medical Equipment Company Convicted of Medicare Fraud
4. Just Completed Studies Reveal Impact of New Medicare Reimbursement Regulations
5. AHCA: Rescinding $2.7 Billion Medicare Cuts Top Issue for Fall Legislative Agenda
6. University of Texas Study Details Lengthy Payment Delays for Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Claims, Confirming Need for Legislative Fix
7. Medicare Spending Caps Cause Seniors to Stop Meds
8. Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, Nonprofit Hospitals, Ambulatory Surgery Centers, Statistical Methods, and Pay-For-Performance Highlighted In the Latest INQUIRY Journal
9. Medicare Every Diabetic Counts Project Gears Up for Kick-Off
10. Medicare Cuts to Physicians Will Harm Washington Seniors
11. More than 10,000 Medicare Patients in Montana Could Be Hit by Proposed Cuts to Home Oxygen Therapy; Access to Power Wheelchairs Would Also Decrease
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... PawPaws brand pet supplements owned by ... to enhance the health of felines. The formula is all-natural and is made from ... the PawPaws Cat Kidney Support Supplement Soft Chews are Astragalus Root Extract ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... Many women are ... with endometriosis. These women need a treatment plan to not only alleviate symptoms ... can help for preservation of fertility and ultimately achieving a pregnancy. The specialists ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... Austin residents seeking Mohs surgery services, can now turn ... to Dr. Russell Peckham for medical and surgical dermatology. , Dr. Dorsey brings specialization ... selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by Dr. Dorsey was under the direction ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... "With 30 hand-drawn ... specific project," said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProHand ... all within Final Cut Pro X . Simply select a ProHand generator and ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, ... and his M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained ... Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the addition ... - Forecast to 2022" report to their offering. ... to date financial data derived from varied research sources to ... potential impact on the market during the next five years, ... of sub markets, regional and country level analysis. The report ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Bracket , ... launch its next generation clinical outcomes platform, Bracket eCOA (SM) ... held on June 26 – 30, 2016 in ... first electronic Clinical Outcome Assessment product of its kind to ... #715. Bracket eCOA 6.0 is a flexible platform ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... and BOGOTA, Colombia , June 23, 2016  Astellas today announced the establishment of Astellas ... Brasil as the company,s second affiliate in Latin America . ... ... of Astellas Farma Colombia ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: