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High Out-of-Pocket Healthcare Costs are Barrier to Follow-Up Care for Cancer Survivors

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Many cancer survivors face financial difficulties that prevent them from receiving appropriate health care. Racial/ethnic disparities in receipt of health care have been reported among cancer survivors, but recent data for important racial/ethnic subgroups of the US population are lacking.  A new study from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University sought to identify barriers to healthcare access faced by cancer survivors.

For this study researchers analyzed data from the NIH “All of Us” Research Program. Data about demographic factors and other personal characteristics, personal medical history of cancer, healthcare utilization, and access to care.

As of November 2020, a total of 5426 participants had a history of cancer (excluding skin cancer). About 88.2% were non-Hispanic White; 3.9% were Black, African American, or African; 1.3% were Asian; 4.1% were Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish; and 1.2% reported more than one race. Just over one-half had an annual income of $75,000 or greater. The majority of the participants (71.7%) were college graduates or had an advanced degree. About 47.0%% had private health insurance, 41.0% had Medicare, 6.0% had Medicaid, and the remainder had military, Veterans Affairs, other insurance, or no health insurance. Frequently cited reasons for delayed care in the past 12 months were “had to pay out of pocket for some or all of the procedures,” “deductible was too high/or could not afford the deductible,” “couldn’t afford the copay,” “couldn’t get time off work,” and “were nervous about seeing a health care provider.”

A minority of cancer survivors who participated in the NIH “All of Us” Program had difficulty paying for health care in the past 12 months. Of particular concern are minorities such as African American and Hispanic cancer survivors along with those who are low income.

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