Jennifer Mellace wrote about The Financial Burden of Cancer Care in Social Work Today Vol. 10 No. 2 P. 14:
Numbers don’t lie and a recent survey conducted by the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) shows that more than one half of cancer patients indicate cancer costs negatively impact their focus on recovery. Those who work with these patients know the stressors firsthand and understand the negative impact they can have on family, caregivers, and most importantly the patients.
Dedicated to the enhancement of psychosocial services for people with cancer and their families to help them cope with the practical, financial, emotional, and social concerns of living with cancer, the AOSW’s survey results are part of an ongoing effort by the association to increase understanding and support for people with cancer and their families. Conducted in the fall of 2009, the centerpiece of the project consisted of three surveys—one with 169 cancer patients, another with 131 caregivers, and a third with 153 oncology social workers. From these surveys, the AOSW collected valuable information about the different financial issues patients face, how they’re coping with these issues, and how finances impact their ability to focus on recovery.
According to the survey, 66% of patients with major financial challenges suffer depression or anxiety, 29% delay filling prescriptions due to financial pressures, and 22% skip doses of their medications. Sixty-three percent of oncology social workers surveyed said financial issues reduce patients’ compliance with their cancer treatment even though that treatment is key to their recovery. Additionally, 40% of patients reported depleting their savings, almost 30% reported dealing with bill collectors, and 54% of those handling a major/catastrophic financial burden said it had become more difficult in the past year to afford treatment.
Furthermore, 68% of cancer patients and caregivers surveyed reported that the patient is experiencing financial hardship due to medical bills, and 55% of all cancer patients surveyed said the stress of dealing with costs negatively affects their ability to focus on their recovery.
At Christ is my Big C, this is how we believe we can positively impact cancer patients who are currently fighting this battle. We provide financial assistance for many things that a family might need. We have provided assistance by paying for things such as medical bills, household bills, insurance deductibles, prescriptions, medical equipment, gas cards for long trips for treatment, hotel stays, and recently paid off a much needed lawn mower! It is at the core of our belief that if we can reduce the amount of stress to a cancer patient, it will enable them to focus on recovery and living life to the fullest!