Young cancer survivors can't afford care

Sept. 25, 2012 at 12:05 AM
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SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Many young adult cancer survivors avoid routine medical care because it's too expensive, despite most having health insurance, U.S. researchers say.

Anne Kirchhoff of Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and colleagues analyzed national survey responses from younger adults ages 20-39 years: 979 diagnosed with cancer between ages of 15-34 years and at least five years from diagnosis. Their findings were compared with 67,216 controls who had no cancer history.

The study, published in online ahead of the print edition of the journal Cancer, found adolescent and young adult cancer survivors had similar rates of being uninsured as those without cancer -- 21 percent versus 23 percent -- but cancer survivors were 67 percent more likely to forgo routine medical care due to costs in the previous year.

Cost barriers were particularly high for younger survivors ages 20-29 and female survivors.

"The Affordable Care Act is an important step to ensuring that adolescent and young adult cancer survivors have health insurance coverage and improving their healthcare access; but they need to be educated about the importance of regular healthcare to monitor for late effects," Kirchhoff said in a statement.

"Furthermore, even the insured survivors in our study reported unmet healthcare needs due to cost barriers, suggesting that adolescent and young adult cancer survivors need resource supports beyond health insurance."

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