Many cancer patients report exhausting their life savings on cancer drugs, or going bankrupt trying to cover the cost of their treatment. When the average family in the U.S. earns about $52,000/year, but cancer prescriptions often add up to $120,000/year – with an insured patient’s copay responsibility for the drugs running as much as $30,000, according to NPR stats – it’s easy to see why patients and medical professionals are describing the situation as economically unsustainable. One study shows that, even adjusting for inflation and other factors, anticancer drugs approved between 1995 and 2013 rose 10 percent yearly – roughly $8,500 every year! That same research showed that the cost of drugs for each year the cancer patient lived grew from $54,000 in 1995 to $207,000 in 2013.And unfortunately, these rising cancer drug costs are resulting in about 10-20% of cancer patients skipping their treatment, according to this 2013 study.
But in spite of the dark picture that news headlines paint regarding the cost of cancer drugs, there are steps you can take to reduce your spending if you or a loved one is being treated. We’ll cover some of those strategies here.
1. Spend less per prescription using prescription discounts
For those whose medical condition is one that requires more expensive prescription medications, such as cancer treatment drugs, the value of saving through shaving the cost off of each prescription by a few percentage points can be a substantial savings strategy. And it’s even better when the patient can get a discount card that is free! The no-cost FamilyWize card helps you to instantly to start saving up to 75 percent on your prescriptions.
Just print out your personal FamilyWize card (or use our online form to request a mailed FamilyWize card), show it at any of our participating pharmacies nationwide, and ask for the lowest price on your prescriptions.
2. Reach out to the drug companiesIf you need a specific drug, some pharmaceutical companies provide assistance to more financially-strapped patients. These patient assistance programs are operated by the drug companies themselves, and in some cases, provide free medications to those who can’t afford them. Check out the list of participating companies at Rx Assist.
3. Ask your doctor for alternativesIn the evolving world of anticancer drug options, it never hurts to ask your doctor about alternative treatments that may achieve the same results at a lower cost. For example, one doctor’s recent research on alternative treatments for colon cancer looked at Zaltrap and Avastin – two drugs that serve similar colon cancer conditions/development states and work similarly on the condition, with both drugs extending median survival by about one and a half months. However, Zaltrap’s monthly cost was $11,000/month, significantly higher than Avistin’s $5,000/month.
While the cost of treatment can be high, taking your medication as prescribed by your doctor is extremely important. Always make sure to explore your savings options before taking a risk with your health!