Cancer patients face high out-of-pocket costs

Many cancer patients, even those with insurance, have high out-of-pocket costs, according to an article by Kaiser Health News. 

The article cites several recent studies which look at the cost of cancer care to patients. 

The first study, by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that between 2001 – 2008, 13.5% of cancer patients spent over 20% of their income on cancer treatments, in contrast to 9.7% of non-cancer patients who have a chronic health condition.

Another study, by Duke University Medical Center and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, found that out-of-pocket costs for breast cancer patients averaged $712 a month.  The costs included prescription drugs and insurance co-pays.


The third study, by Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, found that in Washington State, 1.9% of cancer patients declared bankruptcy within 5 years of their diagnosis; this is compared to 0.28% of non-cancer patients who declared bankruptcy over a 10 year period. 

(Sources: Kaiser Health News,, October 11, 2011; Journal of Clinical Oncology, October 4, 2011;  American Society of Clinical Oncology,, October, 2011)