To gauge how close those fears match reality, Schulman and his colleagues began an Internet survey of cancer patients in 2006.
Approximately 1,400 men and women participated, drawn from every Medicare jurisdiction in the United States. The majority were female and white, with an average age of 60. About one-quarter came from rural areas, and about half said they had private, employer-based health insurance when they began treatment -- insurance that supplemented their Medicare coverage for those 65 and older.
About half the patients had started and finished their chemotherapy treatment between January 2003 and January 2005; the other half began their treatment in February 2005 and continued on.
Patients were asked about their type of cancer, insurance status, income, educational background, race/ethnicity, waiting time for treatment, travel time to treatment facility, changes in facilities or physicians, and overall satisfaction with their care and ability to handle out-of pocket costs.
The study authors found that among those 65 and older, the wait time for chemotherapy treatment following diagnosis was the same both before and after 2003: three weeks.
Most patients 65 and older on either side of the Medicare changes said it took about 30 minutes to get to their treatment center. And only 12 percent of both groups of patients said their health-care location had changed during their treatment regimen.
Sixty-five percent of all patients 65 and older said they were "very satisfied" with their oncologist's services, and 76 percent said they were "very satisfied" with staff service at their place of chemotherapy treatment.
Among younger patients, the number who were "very satisfied" with their oncologist actually rose from 58 percent pre-2003 to 67 percent post-2003.
However, when it came to out-of-pocket costs, the post-2003 picture wasn
All rights reserved