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Samantha Watson on the Importance of Patient-Provider Discussions About Cancer Costs

Providers have a responsibility to discuss the costs of cancer care with their patients earlier on, so the patients arenít blindsided by enormous bills, said Samantha Watson, founder and CEO of The Samfund. These conversations would help patients prepare for the financial realities associated with cancer.


Providers have a responsibility to discuss the costs of cancer care with their patients earlier on, so the patients aren’t blindsided by enormous bills, said Samantha Watson, founder and CEO of The Samfund. These conversations would help patients prepare for the financial realities associated with cancer.

Transcript (slightly modified)

How can payers and providers better listen to the needs of patients with cancer?

Everybody has a stake in this conversation, because the earlier conversations about cost are had, the better everyone’s going to be able to manage the costs down the line. So providers need to be talking, payers need to be talking, and patients need to be talking. I think if providers and payers are going to listen better, then patients need to be better about speaking up.

Right now what’s happening is that nobody’s acknowledging early on that cancer is really expensive, so patients are blindsided by the cost. A lot of times when someone is diagnosed, it’s obviously so emotionally overwhelming, everything starts spinning, everything feels out of control, nobody’s thinking about cost. Nobody should be thinking about cost at that moment, but at some point before treatment starts, they should be making sure that their insurance is going to cover their treatment, that they’re able to manage their bills outside of cancer care, that their employers are going to be flexible and give them the time off.

There are so many ways that accommodations can be made, and that assistance can be found, if the issue is addressed early. So I think on the one hand, providers need to listen to their patients’ concerns as long as patients are bringing them up, and on the other hand, providers need to bring it up too. I think it’s an ongoing conversation, because not everybody’s ready to talk about it at a certain time, but it’s so critical before those bills go into collections, before somebody has to lose their home because of the cost of care. So I think this is a dialogue that needs to happen early, and it needs to happen often.

 
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