The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today released its third annual National Cancer Opinion Survey, results of which highlight the added stress that the financial burden of treatment places on patients with cancer.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology today released its third annual National Cancer Opinion Survey, results of which highlight the added stress that the financial burden of treatment places on patients with cancer.
The survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll from July to August of this year, and it gathered responses from 4001 US adults and an oversample of 814 adults with cancer for a total of 1,009 adults who have or had cancer.
Survey results showed that 65% of patients with cancer had anxiety about their financial situation as a result of a cancer diagnosis, and 65% of caregivers also reported such anxiety. Additionally, 53% of patients said that they had concerns about the affordability of their treatment, and 74% of caregivers also had concerns.
Patients and their caregivers also report taking actions to reduce the cost of care, including cutting pills in half (9% of patients, 11% of caregivers, respectively), postponing or not filling prescriptions (8% and 12%), skipping or postponing doctor appointments (8% and 14%), ordering medications from overseas (4% and 6%), or even refusing treatment (5% and 12%). More than 50% of patients said they had spoken with their doctor about the fact that they were taking these measures.
Patients with private insurance were more likely than publicly insured patients take such steps to reduce their costs, with 15% of privately insured patients having skipped or delayed a doctor appointment versus 4% of publicly insured patients. Additionally, 13% of the privately insured had delayed having scans to assess their cancer, while 4% of the publicly insured reported having done so.
The survey results showed an increase in the number of privately insured patients taking steps to curb their treatment costs versus 2018, with 36% saying they had taken at least 1 action to cut costs in 2019 versus 24% having done so in 2018. Publicly insured patients’ trended actions to curb costs remained roughly flat at 18% (versus last year’s 17%).
Both patients and caregivers reported having dipped into savings (20% and 28%), worked extra hours (14% and 19%), or even filed for bankruptcy (5% and 6%), among other actions, to help pay for care. Among those who have not yet had to use their savings, 37% of patients and 41% of caregivers said they were concerned about having to do so in the future.
As a result of such high costs, the majority of survey respondents said that they FDA should speed up approvals of cheaper generics for cancer treatment (87% of all respondents, and 92% of patients), and that the government should regulate the cost of cancer drugs to bring down costs (86% of all respondents, and 88% of patients).
Regulating the price of cancer drugs was an issue on which respondents on both sides of the political divide could agree; 91% of Republicans and 91% of Democrats said that Medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, and 89% of Republicans and 87% of Democrats wanted to see faster generic drug approvals.