Posted on May 28th, 2020
A diagnosis of lung cancer can be devastating in everyone's life. Costs of lung cancer treatment starting from imaging and scans can soon overwhelm the patients as well as their families. However, individuals diagnosed with lung cancer after prolonged exposure to a hazardous agent have the right to claim financial compensation.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths throughout the world and is the most common occupation-related cancer. Being diagnosed with lung cancer can not only affect your physical and mental health but may also take a tremendous toll on your financial commitments. As per the AARP The Magazine, the total costs of cancer treatment can average up to $150,000, but it can be higher because containing and killing the cancer cells that divide and spread abnormally without affecting the nearby normal cells requires a wide range of treatment, which includes complicated surgery, lengthy radiation therapy, and chemotherapy for an extended period. Several factors are considered when determining the cost and quality, which include:
According to an analysis, the drug costs for lung cancer accounted for about 20% of total costs after the diagnosis, and other cancer care services such as hospital inpatient admission, and facility services accounted for 80% of the total costs. The report also shows significant use of inpatient hospital stays during the early months of diagnosis.
The costs of life-saving treatments continue to raise as cancer survival rates increase, and almost $150 billion is spent nationwide for cancer care per year. This is nearly four times the treatment cost for other common health issues, as per the report of The Mesothelioma Center. The drug costs per month for cancer treatment may be as high as $100,000. With the staggering costs associated with direct cancer care, the patients and their families try to arrange funds and avoid financial disaster. But, at the same time, the higher cost of lung cancer treatments can add distress, hardships, and burden. The hidden costs of lung cancer treatment in the form of travel expenses are serious hardship and an additional financial burden for nearly half of the cancer patients. Numerous studies have shown that unaffordable medical costs can impact the patient's health as much as the effects of cancer therapy, and researchers have termed it as "financial toxicity".
Workplace toxic exposure related lung cancer has a long latency period, which means that workers start developing the symptoms of lung cancer decades after they were initially exposed to hazardous agents. As a result, workers after retiring from their jobs will have to pay high treatment costs, which range from $55,548 to $798,181 during the initial six months (study published in Cancer Medicine, January 2019) out-of-pocket.
The estimated lifetime cost of lung cancer treatment and other health care expenses was estimated to be up to $282,000. Lung cancer can be treated through three primary approaches including surgery, radiation, and drug therapy (chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy). A few patients may need all three treatment modalities, while others receive one or two types. As a result, the costs you need to bear may vary and depend on the factors such as:
Although it is impossible to be accurate, here are the average costs of different approaches to lung cancer treatment:
Post-operative care is also costly as it includes dealing with complications, the cost of scans, follow-up treatment such as chemotherapy, and home care.
According to the data from the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research, 2016, patients suffering from cancer are 2.5 times more likely to declare bankruptcy as compared to healthy people. Here are examples of financially difficult situations that were experienced by patients with cancer in the order of severity:
Thus, high costs of cancer treatment often clash with proper care and as per research, an estimated 2 million cancer survivors gave up one or more essential medical services because of the cost. Some patients decide on taking less medicine than advised, fill their prescriptions partially, or even do not fill at all, and skip treatment procedures or tests recommended by their doctor just to make ends meet. Financial hardships due to expensive cancer care may lead to a lack of adequate food, shelter, and other utilities jeopardizing the health of cancer patients.