Cancer Treatments Bankrupt Many Families

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    Josephine Rizo is a breast cancer survivor. However, she is now struggling financially as the result of the radiation and chemotherapy that she received. Money was already tight for her because she had taken a pay cut. She eventually lost her job and had to go on disability. She was left with $50,000 in medical bills after completing her treatments.

    Josephine was not worried about the bills at first. She was worried about beating the cancer and being around for her children. Many people are worried about the cost of cancer treatments because insurance coverage has been cut. Fortunately, patient advocates are trying to help people.

    Cancer centers are hiring more patient advocates to help people make sense of the costs. Non-profit organizations are also teaching people how to deal with the costs while they are receiving treatment instead of waiting until after they complete the treatments. Jean Sachs is the CEO of Living Beyond Cancer, which is a non-profit organization.

    She stated that many cancer patients come from middle class families, but they are still not financially-prepared for the costs of cancer. It has always been expensive to treat cancer. However, there have been several changes made in recent years that make it difficult to pay for cancer treatments.

    Insurance companies have raised the cost of deductibles and reducing prescription drug coverage. This means that cancer patients often have to spend thousands of dollars out of pocket. The Affordable Care Act has put a limit on the amount that people have to pay out of pocket. However, many people have to get cancer treatment for over a year and will exceed the limit.

    New cancer treatments are more tolerable than the older ones, so people can stay on them longer. This will raise the cost of treatment. Dr. Yousaf Zafar is an oncologist who works at Duke Cancer Institute. He conducted a survey that involved 300 insured patients. Forty percent of the cancer patients stated that the costs of their treatments were higher than expected. Sixteen percent of patients were overwhelmed with the costs of their treatments.

    It is important to note that treatments are not the only thing that can cause financial strain. Caregivers have to take off from work. Additionally, people also have to pay travel costs.

    Read More about this feature on chicagotribune.com.

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