(NaturalNews) The costs of cancer treatments impose a major financial burden even on patients with private health insurance, leading in many cases to bankruptcy, according to a new report issued by the American Cancer Society and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
"A cancer diagnosis can threaten anyone with bankruptcy and financial ruin, no matter what your earning power is," said Peggy McGuire of the Women's Cancer Resource Center. "There are many paths you take, but they lead to the same destination: loss of all resources."
The researchers reviewed the types of financial problems regularly reported to the American Cancer Society's Health Insurance Assistance Center, then used their report to profile 20 patients whose cases they considered representative. Among the problems commonly reported are caps or lifetime maximums on the costs covered by insurers; high cost-sharing or out-of-pocket expenses; and delays in treatment.
Other patients reported difficulty keeping insurance coverage if they became too sick to work. While many employers will allow such former employees to keep paying the full premium on their health coverage for 18 months, such costs can be prohibitive for many people who have lost a major source of income. Patients who have lost coverage often have trouble finding new health insurance even if their cancer is eradicated and never recurs.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 70 percent of those under the age of 65 who are diagnosed with cancer are covered by private insurance. Of those profiled in the report, ten received coverage through their work, seven paid for individual insurance, two were covered by state insurance and one became uninsured.
"You would at least think the health care system would work for the people who are sick," said Drew Altman of the Kaiser Family Foundation. "What this study shows is there are lots of gaps and holes and problems for the people who are the sickest in our society. That's the opposite of how health care should work."