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Dr Joseph Alvarnas Discusses Awareness of Cancer Patients' Financial Concerns

Joseph Alvarnas, MD, of the City of Hope and editor-in-chief of Evidence-Based Oncology, admits that he was once “oblivious” to his patients’ concerns about the cost of cancer treatment. However, it is important for clinicians to empathize with these fears and understand how they can factor into a patient’s care choices.


Joseph Alvarnas, MD, of the City of Hope and editor-in-chief of Evidence-Based Oncology, admits that he was once “oblivious” to his patients’ concerns about the cost of cancer treatment. However, it is important for clinicians to empathize with these fears and understand how they can factor into a patient’s care choices.

Transcript (slightly modified)

How does cost sharing influence outcomes in oncology?

This is a fascinating question, because I’ll tell you that for years, actually decades, patients have asked me, “What does this cost?” And I’ve been completely oblivious to that answer. And over the last 5 years I’ve realized that me being oblivious to the cost of care was inadequate because for some patients, this idea that either through tiered co-payments or even through co-insurance, that part of the cost of that care, which could in fact be quite substantial, was theirs, was going to be borne by them.

So when we look at a lot of healthcare coverage these days, that deductible factors very deeply into a patient’s care choices, into how they view different options offered to them. And this idea that patients can live with the fear of financial devastation and bankruptcy as part of their healthcare experience is something that has to give us a certain sense of humility, has to give us a certain sense of pause, and also I think forces us as practitioners to assume greater ownership over these sorts of ideas, which is something that frankly I hadn’t done previously. 

 
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