Cancer survivors in the U.S. have been experiencing significant economic burdens due to growing medical costs, missed work and reduced productivity, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Cancer survivors face physical, emotional, psychosocial, employment and financial challenges as a result of their cancer diagnosis and treatment,” said Donatus U. Ekwueme, PhD, a senior health economist at CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, in a press release. “With the number of cancer survivors expected to increase by more than 30 percent in the next decade – up to 18 million Americans – medical and public health professionals must be diligent in their efforts to help reduce the burden of cancer survivors and their families.”
Researchers analyzed data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s 2008-2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to estimate annual medical costs and productivity losses among male and females cancer survivors, aged 18 years and older, and among persons without a history of cancer.
Lost productivity was estimated by reviewing employment disability, health-related missed days of work, and days spent bedridden.
From 2008 to 2011, male cancer survivors experienced annual medical costs of more than 8,000 dollars per person, and productivity losses of 2,700 dollars compared to males without a history of cancer at about 3,900 and 2,300 dollars.
Similarly, female cancer survivors had 8,400 dollars in annual medical costs per person and 4,000 dollars in productivity losses compared to females without a history of cancer at 5,100 and 2,700 dollars respectively.
In addition, researchers discovered the following information related to cancer patients and survivors:
– Cancer survivors were prone to be females, non-Hispanic white with multiple chronic conditions or to be in fair or poor health
– Employment disability accounted for about 75 percent of lost productivity
For those individuals struggling to make medical payments, some life insurance policies can be used to help ease this financial burden by paying off outstanding debts.
For example, permanent life insurance plans have a savings account, which generates a fixed, regular cash income. The amount can later be withdrawn and used to cover medical expenses.