A newer field of study, focused on “financial toxicity,” examines issues related to the personal economic burden of cancer treatment. Financial toxicity can affect health outcomes (including rates of death), mental health of patients, as well as the obvious bottom line of family finances.
This financial burden can be a clear challenge during breast cancer treatment. However, new research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reports that high health care costs can continue long after diagnosis, especially for patients with the common complication of lymphedema. This complication was found to add an extra $2,000 per year in out-of-pocket patient spending. A number that, over time, can drain the resources of many patients and their families. This economic burden can be significant.
Other research shows that in the very short-term, economics also influence breast cancer patients. Some women delay care while trying to access funding in the immediate period after diagnosis. It’s known that prompt treatment affects outcomes, so this is a concerning situation.
At BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy, we work hard with and for patients to remove financial obstacles. This explains why our Patient Assistance department connects our patients with financial resources, such as foundation grants and co-pay assistance programs. Our goal is for patient treatment to both start and continue, as evidenced by the more than $30 million in patient financial assistance we connect patients to each year.
Press release. The long-term financial toll of breast cancer. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. August 22, 2018.
Abelson R. Women with breast cancer delay care when faced with high deductibles. New York Times May 4, 2018.