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Michele McCourt Discusses Growing Financial Hardships for Patients With Cancer

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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®.

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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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