Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Silent Killer: Cancer Care Costs

Boy with Cancer“All bodies are slow in growth but rapid in decay."  Publius Cornelius Tacitus

The financial costs of cancer are great for both the person with cancer and for society as a whole. In 2009, the National Institutes of Health estimated the 2008 overall annual costs of cancer were as follows:

  • Total cost: $228.1 billion
  • Direct medical costs (total of all health expenditures): $ 93.2 billion
  • Indirect morbidity costs (cost of lost productivity due to illness): $ 18.8 billion
  • Indirect mortality costs (cost of lost productivity due to premature death): $116.1 billion

One of the major costs of cancer is cancer treatment. But lack of health insurance and other barriers to health care prevent many Americans from even getting good, basic health care. 

According to the early release estimates from the 2008 National Health Interview Survey: About 24% of Americans aged 18 to 64 had no health insurance for at least part of the past year. About 13% of children in the United States had no health insurance for at least part of the past year. And according to Cancer Facts & Figures 2009, "Individuals with no health insurance and those with Medicaid insurance are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancer." This leads to higher medical costs, poorer outcomes, and higher cancer death rates. 

This year, about 562,340 Americans are expected to die of cancer -- that's more than 1,500 people a day. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. Cancer accounts for nearly 1 out of every 4 deaths in the United States. 

Cancer costs billions of dollars. It also costs us the people we love. Reducing barriers to cancer care is critical in the fight to eliminate suffering and death due to cancer. 

American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and  Figures 2009. Atlanta, GA. 2009.

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