What Does Affordable Healthcare Mean for Cancer Patients?

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Topics include: Living Well and Understanding

How do patients make cancer care more affordable?  Finances are often the bottom line for cancer patients.  Communication with your healthcare team holds the key to resolving this sticky and oftentimes stigmatized problem.  Stage IV lung cancer survivor and patient advocate, Janet Freeman-Daily, hosts this roundtable of experts that includes such luminaries as Drs. David Odell, Ross Camidge, Timothy Kruser, Nisha Mohindra, as well as other ancillary notables.

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Sandra Manley-Eichler:

So first and foremost, if you find that you’re financially struggling; your physician wants to know about it. They’re not going to judge you because you’re experiencing some financial concerns. Cancer can be very expensive and in the state of health insurance today, there are a lot of questions about what does affordable healthcare mean? And so I think reaching out is incredibly important.

I also think it’s important not to take a myopic view of finances—that even if you are exploring financial assistance, whether it be for transportation, or for your co-insurance, or your co-pays for your prescriptions, the other parts of your life could also maybe use a little bit of budgeting.

I think the other piece of that is nobody walks into a doctor’s office with a perfectly clean financial portfolio, and I think it’s kind of figuring out who are the right people to follow up with to make sure that you feel you have some good financial fitness during your cancer treatment and to not feel ashamed about it. Even as therapists, we don’t always talk about it unless they bring it up. But to feel confident that that’s an area of your life that definitely needs to have some additional support, I think that’s very important.

Dr. Kruser:           

I think it’s okay to actually mention to your doctors that there are financial concerns. There are chemotherapy regimens that are 95 percent as good as the newest, greatest, best thing, but it might be half as expensive. And if we know that somebody’s going to be paying some portion out of pocket, we might make a little decision like that. Or radiation courses sometimes can be shortened if we know that transportation, gas, out of pocket are expenditures are a concern for a patient or family, and they may be, again, 95 percent as effective with half the cost associated.

So we’re often able to make slightly different treatment decisions based on those very valid concerns for patients, and we will grow and prosper, building long-term relationships based on top-quality service, high ethical standards and safe, sound assets. 

Dr. Odell:              

There’s also a lot we can do in terms of coordination of care when we know especially if folks are traveling from quite a distance.

And oftentimes we’re just not at all aware of it. It doesn’t kind of raise to the level of our average clinical encounter with the patient to necessarily think about those things. So raise your hand and bring it up, and we can oftentimes adjust what we do. It doesn’t take a lot of work; it just takes a little bit of knowledge.

Janet Freeman-Daily:

It’s been brought to my attention that most doctors do not have this ability into the patient’s insurance into how much is being covered. I’ve been receiving my drugs through my clinical trial, so I hadn’t looked at the price. I guess the average price of crizotinib (Xalkori) was around $9,000 a month if you’re getting it without any insurance. So I checked my insurance and thank you Boeing retirement; I could get the drug for $35 a month. And then I checked my husband’s Medicare Advantage, and he has a 30 percent co-pay—30 percent of $10,000 is a lot. So it can vary widely. So cost is a valid concern and worth bringing up with your doctor.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 


Page last updated on March 10, 2017
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