Childhood Cancer Survivors Face Lifelong Health Insurance Challenges
Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare), adult survivors of childhood cancer were denied health insurance more often, paid more for out-of-pocket health care expenses, were more likely to borrow money because of health care costs, and were less likely to fill necessary prescriptions due to their price than their cancer-free siblings, finds a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Results of this study will be used to help determine the effects of the ACA, implemented in 2014, on people with pre-existing medical conditions.
Other research has shown that the financial burdens of cancer extend far beyond the cost of cancer treatment. For this study, researchers analyzed surveys completed by 700 participants in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) and compared them to surveys completed by 210 siblings of childhood cancer survivors – the cancer-free comparison group. Among the most troubling findings, according to researchers: About 60 percent of uninsured cancer survivors reported having a medical problem for which they did not seek care and 46 percent did not have a primary care provider (compared to 22 percent and 6 percent, respectively, among cancer survivors with health insurance).
Childhood cancer survivors may have a higher-than-average risk for serious medical problems as adults, including heart disease and secondary cancers, and should generally undergo more frequent screening. Additional research is needed to determine the full effects of provisions in the ACA that mandate coverage for pre-existing conditions and allow young people to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. Adult childhood cancer survivors are among those most dependent on the health care system.