The Importance of Health Insurance For Those Fighting Cancer

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The Importance of Health Insurance For Those Fighting Cancer

Fighting a life-threatening illness is a challenge for anyone. But, for those who are battling for their lives without health insurance, the problems are compounded: Many uninsured Americans diagnosed with cancer either must use all of their savings, if they have any, or go without necessary treatment that could save their lives.

Every year an estimated 1.3 million people in America are diagnosed with some form of cancer, according to Health Affairs, a publication that focuses on the policies in the health arena. The publication also found that the majority of Americans with cancer are older and their care is generally covered by Medicare. However, there are still hundreds of thousands of Americans battling cancer who are either uninsured or underinsured.

The actual numbers are eye-opening, especially for those uninsured Americans with cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, 560,000 Americans will die from cancer this year alone. Of those 560,000 people, an estimated 37,000 uninsured cancer patients will die.

But, it gets worse. Many of those uninsured Americans who die from cancer would likely have had a better chance of survival had they been insured. The American Cancer Society found that approximately half of all uninsured cancer patients ate up their entire savings or the majority of their savings in battling cancer.

The American Cancer Society also found that uninsured cancer patients, four in 10 to be exact, forgo necessary treatment by not filling their needed prescriptions, by not going to treatments like chemotherapy, and by taking fewer pills than they’re supposed to in an effort to save money.

What’s more, uninsured cancer patients have a much higher chance of being diagnosed with advanced forms of cancer whereas cancer patients with insurance are much more likely to have their cancer diagnosed at an earlier stage, thus giving them a higher chance of survival.

Uninsured cancer patients diagnosed with advanced forms of cancer, on the other hand, generally face treatments that are much more expensive and even more difficult.

A report entitled "Care Without Coverage: Too Little, Too Late," released by the Institute of Medicine, found that cancer patients without health insurance received one-half of the health care that cancer patients with health insurance receive. As a result, many uninsured cancer patients are diagnosed at a much later point in their illness and die considerably sooner that those who are insured.

Even those with health insurance often find that their coverage is simply not enough as they battle cancer. The American Cancer Society also found that one out of every five insured cancer patients used all or most of their savings when trying to cover the costs of care that their insurance simply did not cover.As a result of the startling figures, the American Cancer Society has launched an aggressive, nationwide campaign to help educate Americans as to the severe problems that cancer patients without health insurance, or with inadequate health insurance that simply does not cover the necessary treatment, face to increase their chances of survival.