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Report: Young Cancer Survivors Skip Check-Ups Because of Cost

Survivors need resource supports beyond health insurance, authors say (Sept. 24)

Many survivors of adolescent and young adult cancers avoid routine medical care because it’s too expensive, despite the fact that most have health insurance. That is the conclusion of a new study announced on September 24 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and published online in Cancer.

The results indicate that expanding insurance coverage for young cancer survivors may be insufficient to safeguard their long-term health without efforts to reduce their medical cost burdens.

Medical care in the years after a cancer diagnosis is particularly important for detecting long-term health conditions associated with cancer treatment; however, little is known about the extent of care that survivors of adolescent and young adult cancers receive in the years after their diagnosis and treatment.

To investigate, researchers at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, analyzed national survey responses from younger adults aged 20 to 39 years. A total of 979 patients who were diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 15 to 34 years and were at least 5 years from diagnosis were compared with 67,216 controls with no cancer history.

While adolescent and young adult cancer survivors had similar rates of being uninsured as those without cancer (21% vs. 23%, respectively), survivors were 67% more likely to forgo routine medical care because of costs in the previous year. Cost barriers were particularly high for younger survivors aged 20 to 29 years (44% vs. 16% of controls) and female survivors (35% vs. 18% of controls). Survivors reporting poorer health also experienced more cost barriers.

“The Affordable Care Act is an important step to ensuring that adolescent and young adult cancer survivors have health insurance coverage and improving their health care access; however, they need to be educated about the importance of regular healthcare to monitor for late effects,” said Anne Kirchhoff, PhD, MPH. “Furthermore, even the insured survivors in our study reported unmet healthcare needs due to cost barriers, suggesting that adolescent and young adult cancer survivors need resource supports beyond health insurance.”

For more information, visit the Wiley Web site.

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