US Health Care System Squeezes Cancer Patients

-- Jane Parry

Thursday, February 5, 2009

THURSDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with life-threatening illnesses not only face the specter of serious disease, they also have to grapple with incurring huge debts to meet medical fees, personal bankruptcy and even forgoing treatment, according to a report released Feb. 5 by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the American Cancer Society.

In the report, Spending to Survive: Cancer Patients Confront Holes in the Health Insurance System, Karyn Schwartz of the Kaiser Family Foundation in Menlo Park, Calif., and colleagues profile 20 patients with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses to highlight typical problems encountered within the U.S. health care system.

A cancer diagnosis can lead to incurring huge debts to cover the cost of treatment, even for those with private medical insurance, and when disease leads to unemployment and loss of health benefits, finding an insurer willing to offer health insurance without imposing higher premiums or exclusions can be very difficult, the authors write. The cost of treatment and insurance premiums can lead to postponement or even avoidance of treatment, they add.

"Eligibility restrictions prevent public programs from reaching some of the individuals who are struggling to maintain coverage or pay for care in the private health insurance system," the authors write. "Addressing the holes in the current health insurance system will be key to providing the privately insured with economic security and access to health care in the face of illness."

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Specialties Cardiology
Diabetes & Endocrinology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice

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