Uninsured cancer patients receive less healthcare, pay more

June 1, 2003

Pharmaceutical Representative

Uninsured cancer patients incurred healthcare costs that were little more than half the costs of treating privately insured cancer patients over a six-month period.

By analyzing federal health spending data, Kenneth E. Thorpe and David Howard of Emory University estimated that 200,000 of the 4 million cancer patients treated each year have no health insurance coverage.

Paying more for less

Despite the fact that uninsured cancer patients receive far less healthcare than their insured counterparts do, the authors found that out-of-pocket spending for uninsured cancer patients is nearly two-and-a-half times that of those with insurance.

The study also found that:


•Â Uninsured cancer patients incurred an average of $3,606 in healthcare costs in the six-month window studied, compared with $6,550 for privately insured patients.


•Â Among those under age 65, uninsured cancer patients incurred an average of $4,806 in healthcare costs over six months, compared with $8,419 for privately insured patients.


•Â Uninsured patients under age 65 incurred just $1,454 in inpatient treatment costs over six months, on average, compared with $5,643 for privately insured patients.


•Â Uninsured patients under age 65 paid $1,343 out of pocket on average, compared with $549 for privately insured patients.

Congress made some effort toward addressing these differences when it passed a law allowing states to extend Medicaid coverage to some women with breast or cervical cancer, but according to the authors, this isn't enough. "… Although it is an important first step, breast and cervical cancer account for only 15% of newly diagnosed patients with cancer," the authors wrote. "Extending health insurance to the remaining cancer patients without health insurance could result in earlier treatment and improved survival." PR

Related Content:

News