Monday, April 11, 2016

Controlling the Healthcare Costs of Cancer

Today, cancer has touched most people’s lives in some way. As a result, most of us are aware of the high healthcare costs associated with the disease.

Beyond the steps you can take to reduce your chance of developing cancer (not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, protecting your skin from sun exposure, and limiting alcohol consumption, for instance), there are also ways to control the cost of cancer healthcare, since we live in a time of increasing healthcare costs, as cancer patient data confirms
  • The total cost of cancer prescriptions commonly amounts to $120,000 per year.
  • The typical out-of-pocket cost for an insured cancer patient is as much as $30,000.
  • Statistics indicate that cancer prescription drug prices are going up about $8,500 yearly and that the annual drug costs for cancer patients ballooned between 1995-2013 from $54,000 to $207,000.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your cancer treatment costs!
  • Get insured. The Affordable Care Act requires that most insurance plans cover recommended preventive services without copays, including some cancer screenings. These protections also do away with annual and lifetime dollar limits on coverage, and stop insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. So, this is a good place to start.
  • Ask your physician if there are any cost-friendly alternative cancer treatments that offer the same results. For example, research on colon cancer treatments Zaltrap and Avastin show that they work similarly and give comparable survival rate benefits but differ in monthly costs by $6,000! Be your own advocate.
  • Reduce your prescription costs by getting prescription discounts via the no-cost FamilyWize card, which can save you an average of 43% your prescriptions. You simply print your new FamilyWize card, download the FamilyWize app, or have it mailed to you for free, and then show it at any of the many participating pharmacies nationwide.
  • If your cancer is curable, you can possibly reduce the duration of treatment, by making supportive lifestyle changes. Get a list of these at
  • For certain cancer drugs, pharmaceutical companies offer financial assistance via need-based cancer drug patient assistance programs. If you qualify, the cost will be greatly reduced, or even free. Here’s a list of participating companies.
What not to do to reduce cancer treatment costs: skip doses or reduce your intake of the prescribed prescription dosage. Statistics show that it’s a course taken by many; 10-20% of cancer patients skip treatment to manage costs. But taking your cancer medicines as prescribed is critical to recovery potential. So choose the healthier, safer savings options noted above.

Contributing Writer 

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