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How Much Is Your Health Worth? Exploring the price of cancer and health insurance

| October 25, 2018
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Approximately 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer in 2018, a disease that can cost thousands or, even, millions to treat. In honor of those who have suffered or may suffer from this disease, we want to look at how much your health can be worth when diagnosed with cancer.

How Much Is Health Care BEFORE Cancer?

A report released last by the Health Affairs office estimated that American spent approximately $3.4 trillion a year on medical care. Divide that by the 325.7 million people in the United States, and you would get about $10,000 per person spent every year. That’s before you get into technicalities such as premiums and deductibles involved with health insurance.

The average American won't feel most of these medical expenses. Once you pay the deductible (an average of $1,300 for a single person in a high deductible plan), insurance will cover most care.

Cancer changes that immensely.

Health Insurance and Cancer Treatment

Insurance does cover some parts of cancer treatment. Also, under current law, insurance companies can’t deny you coverage if cancer is a pre-existing. However, what the coverage includes depends on the type of policy you have.

In 2014, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network estimated that U.S. Cancer patients spent nearly $4 billion in out-of-pocket expenses. These payments tend to occur quickly at the beginning of treatment as doctors perform tests to identify the disease and start treatment to contain it.

As you are looking into the various options in treating your cancer, be sure to speak with your insurance and your doctor on what exactly is covered by your plan. Here are a few things to ask.

  • The first thing is to speak with your insurance company about your deductible. What is it? Begin to budget accordingly to cover that out-of-pocket expense.
  • The next question should be about in-network doctors. Out-of-network doctors can be a significant factor in out-of-pocket expenses for patients. This is not to say that you should not see an out-of-network doctor if they are the right person to perform a surgery or provide care. However, it is critical to plan that future expense.
  • Co-pays can sometimes seem small compared to paying full price for medication and testing. Unfortunately, though, they can pile up quickly. With Oral Chemo becoming a popular form of treatment, be sure ask if they cover medication.
  • The ACS CAN report also found that a lower premium plan might not help cancer patients save money in the long run. Often, they include high-cost sharing that will quickly be eaten up by the many tests and treatments a cancer patient requires.

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