Michele McCourt Discusses Growing Financial Hardships for Patients With Cancer

Patients with cancer, many who are older and on Medicare, are finding their medications are becoming unaffordable, Michele McCourt, senior director of the CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation, explained at the Cost-Sharing Roundtable, co-hosted by the Patient Access Network Foundation and The American Journal of Managed Care® on February 23, 2018.

What are the financial hardships facing patients with cancer?
Patients with cancer, because there is a lot of innovation around cancer, and there are a lot of oral targeted treatment medications, patients’ prescription coverage tends to have tiered levels of coverage. So, most of these medications fall into the specialty tier. If they are a Medicare patient, which most patients with cancer are older at this point, they have Part D issues—Medicare Part D, which has a deductible phase, a coverage gap phase, and then the catastrophic. And even when they get into the catastrophic at 5%, these patients can’t afford their medications. It can be anywhere from $500 to over $1000 a month for their medications.

How are the financial hardships changing as cancer becomes more of a chronic condition for many patients?
Cancer is becoming more of a chronic condition. It is affecting the elderly. Elderly patients are already restricted by their incomes and their coverage. Medicare with the out-of-pocket costs for Medicare patients it’s just unaffordable. There was a statistic given earlier today [at the PAN Foundation Cost-Sharing Roundtable] that said one-third of Medicare patients spend 20% of their income on medications. It’s becoming unaffordable for Medicare patients.
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