PharmExec Blog

Financial Woes Affect Cancer Patients’ Treatment Decisions

A recent survey conducted by MDLinx reveals that 95 percent of the nation’s oncologists report a rise in their patients’ concerns over treatment costs in the past six months.

Of the 106 US oncologists surveyed in a MDLinx survey last month, 84 percent said they had invested more time and effort into the financial planning of patients’ treatments than they ever had before. Additionally, 67 percent of those who responded reported that their patients were rationing medications and/or forgoing treatment due to financial and insurance coverage concerns.

Patient noncompliance has been a long-standing issue for the industry, and as the economy has taken a turn for the worse and healthcare has become increasingly mired in politics and policies, financial reasons for noncompliance are on the rise. “We believe that the change in the air in the US regarding medical coverage has injected an additional measure of anxiety for what is already often the most anxious time of these people’s lives,” says Aki Tomaru, CEO of M3 USA, which owns the MDLinx sites.

Now patients, particularly those with potentially terminal illnesses, must weigh their financial situation against the value of further treatment and the potential quality of life, as is evident by this account from Wisconsin-based oncologist Dr. Shahid Shekhani: “I just had a young grandmother, in her 60s, halt lung cancer treatment that would have extended her survival in order to preserve her family’s finances and her ability to leave an inheritance to her children,” he says.

“Frankly, we were shocked at the results of this poll,” said Stephen Smith, M3′s Chief Strategist. “For 20 years mortality rates for most cancers have been steadily and substantially falling. For many, the advances in diagnosis and treatment have transitioned cancer from a disease you die from, to a disease you live with. But what will be the impact if patients are unable to continue their treatments? The trend spotlighted by this poll sounds an alarm for our healthcare system. We need to take notice and find some answers.”

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