Dr Veena Shankaran Examines Financial Burdens Facing Cancer Patients
There are a number of financial hardships patients with cancer can face, even if they are insured, such as loss of employment, depletion of retirement accounts, and bankruptcy, said Veena Shankaran, MD, MS, assistant professor in the division of medical oncology at the University of Washington.
Transcript (slightly modified for readablity) What are the many facets of a cancer patient's life that the economic burden of treatment touches?
Recently there has been a lot of work trying to decide or quantify what this burden is, and these things can range from loss of work, loss of employment, so loss of income, and if a patient is the primary earner for the household it can be significant. We've done studies looking at things like debt, foreclosing or selling a primary home, depleting a retirement and savings accounts, and we've seen these kinds of issues happen in a large percentage of patients, even insured patients.
Then there are more extreme changes like bankruptcy. We did a study looking the rate of bankruptcy in patients with cancer relative to patients without cancer and saw a significant increase in the risk for cancer patients.
So there's a broad range of financial hardships or burdens patients with cancer can face.