A new study says few doctors discuss cancer treatment costs when patients are newly diagnosed. When they do, doctors spend just two minutes talking about it in discussions that were often prompted by questions from the patients.
According to an Associated Press article, researchers recorded 529 visits with doctors and patients at three hospitals -- the Mayo Clinic, Los Angeles County Hospital and the University of Southern California’s Norris campus in Los Angeles.
Discussions about the financial burden of cancer treatments came up in just 151 of the visits, the article said. In 106 of those visits, patients asked questions about the cost. Doctors brought it up during the remaining 45 visits.
Faced with a new cancer diagnosis, it may come as no surprise that money isn’t the first thing on the mind of a patient and even a doctor. The cancer treatment costs, however, can have devastating financial impacts on families.
Cancer drugs and therapies can cost between $10,000 and $30,000 a month, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Even for patients with health insurance, the bills can add up. Patients with health insurance often must pick up 20 percent to 30 percent of the tab.
For many, it’s just too much. According to the clinical oncology society, 10 percent to 20 percent of cancer patients may not be taking prescribed treatments because of the cost -- putting their health in jeopardy. In fact, cancer patients are three times as likely to declare bankruptcy when compared to those without the illness.
According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer patients and their family members should be aware of cancer treatment costs from the very beginning. That will require discussions with several groups who will be involved in your treatment. These include:
The American Cancer Society recommends starting with these seven questions:
The cancer institute even has a financial conversation log so you can easily track your conversations and record the information that you’ve learned all in one place.
For anybody, a cancer diagnosis is devastating. Arming yourself up front with answers to your questions about cancer treatment costs can help keep your focus where it should be -- on getting better.
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