While breast cancer affects both men and women, 12.9 percent of women born in the United States will develop breast cancer within their lifetime. Throughout October, we celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness and encourage preventive measures, like self-exams and yearly mammograms, because early detection is key.
Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is devastating, and diagnosed individuals carry a great financial burden due to high out-of-pocket costs for treatment and testing. Though mammograms are covered under most health insurance plans as a preventive service, any further testing or treatment may have substantial financial consequences, so much so that the out-of-pocket costs for some cancer treatments may prevent individuals from seeking or continuing treatment.
Using data from the national Marative MarketScan database to assess out-of-pocket health care costs of invasive breast cancer treatment among women with employer-sponsored health insurance, researchers concluded that women with high-deductible health plans and consumer-driven health plans had higher out-of-pocket treatment costs than those with preferred provider organization (PPO) and exclusive provider organization (EPO) plans. According to a report from PhRMA, deductibles are the primary financial barrier for out-of-pocket healthcare spending for nearly 40 percent of Americans, meaning that adults with high deductible health plans are among those most likely to face difficulties navigating their health insurance benefits.
Another study from the American Association for Cancer Research in 2020 concluded that “many women undergoing cancer treatment continue to work full time to maintain employer-sponsored health insurance” and that “a breast cancer diagnosis among young women can result in employment disruption and financial decline.”
While there have been substantial breakthroughs in breast cancer research over the last 20 years that lead to better health outcomes for individuals who receive a diagnosis, the financial strain is still prevalent. This month, take some time to raise awareness about the physical, emotional, and financial costs of a breast cancer diagnosis and encourage your loved ones to take preventive measures and donate to research on breast cancer.