Ellen Miller Sonet Highlights Financial Burdens of Patients With Cancer

June 2, 2018

Ellen Miller Sonet, MBA, JD, chief strategy and policy officer, CancerCare, discusses the financial burden cancer patients face and how novel therapies and next-generation sequencing impact the burden.

Ellen Miller Sonet, MBA, JD, chief strategy and policy officer, CancerCare, discusses the financial burden patients with cancer face and how novel therapies and next-generation sequencing impact the burden.

Transcript

How big of an impact does financial burden have on patients with cancer?

A cancer diagnosis and its treatment has enormous financial consequences for patients. There is not only the costs associated with treatment, but there is also the ancillary, nonmedical costs, such as transportation, home healthcare, possible counseling, lodging, childcare. There’s also the lost income for the patient, and often for the caregiver.

Have targeted therapies and immunotherapies affected financial burdens, and will next-generation sequencing have an impact?

Immunotherapies, as exciting as they may be for patients, can also pose enormous financial challenges. Often, they’re inaccessible to patients because of costs and the insurance policies designation in formularies can make the unreachable for certain patients. It’s really unfortunate because these therapies can really make a difference in patients’ lives. But, if they’re inaccessible, then they can’t make that difference.

I think NGS can have an effect in helping determine which patients are most appropriate for targeted therapies, however the NGS also needs to be covered by insurance plans. And again, if insurers aren’t willing to make that part of their policy, then again, patients can’t access it.