Going for Broke: A Longitudinal Study of Patient-Reported Financial Sacrifice in Cancer Care.
PURPOSE: Patients with cancer are at risk for substantial treatment-related costs; however, little is known about patients' willingness to sacrifice to receive cancer care and how their attitudes and burden may change with time. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We conducted a longitudinal survey of insured patients with solid tumor cancers receiving chemotherapy or hormonal therapy. Patients were surveyed at two time points about their willingness to make financial sacrifices and their actual sacrifices, including out-of-pocket costs. Patient attitudes and sacrifices were compared over time. RESULTS: Of 349 patients approached, 300 completed the baseline survey (86% response) and 245 completed the follow-up survey 3 months later (82% retention). Median patient-reported cancer-related out-of-pocket costs for patients who completed both surveys were $393 per month (range, $0 to $26,586 per month) at baseline and $328 per month (range, $0 to $8,210 per month) at follow-up. At baseline, 49% were willing to declare personal bankruptcy, 38% were willing to sell their homes, and ≥ 65% were willing to make other sacrifices, including borrowing money to afford their cancer care. Upon follow-up, there were minor decreases in willingness; the maximum net change was a 7% decline in patients willing to declare bankruptcy. Actual sacrifice increased over time; the greatest increase was in patients who used their savings (increased from 41% to 54%). CONCLUSION: A large proportion of insured patients with cancer were willing to make considerable personal and financial sacrifices to receive care; these attitudes did not change greatly over time. Shared decision making is important to ensure patients fully understand the goals, risks, and benefits of therapy before they make such personal sacrifices.
Chino, F; Peppercorn, JM; Rushing, C; Nicolla, J; Kamal, AH; Altomare, I; Samsa, G; Zafar, SY
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