Life Wellbeing Insured breast cancer patients end up paying more for treatment: study

Insured breast cancer patients end up paying more for treatment: study

Survival rates for breast cancer are improving, but treatment can impose a huge financial burden. Getty
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Breast cancer patients with private health insurance appear to be financially worse off compared to those who rely on Medicare, a report has found.

A Deloitte Access Economics report has found total out-of-pocket costs for women with private health insurance were higher than those without.

Overall, women with breast cancer pay about $5000 in out-of-pocket costs in the five-year period after their diagnosis.

Some women with private health insurance paid about $7000 in the private health system, compared to $3600 for women without insurance.
One quarter of privately insured women reported out-of-pocket costs of more than $21,000.

The report was commissioned by Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) and surveyed almost 2000 women about the out-of-pocket costs they faced after they were diagnosed with breast cancer.

About 12 per cent of respondents had no out-of- pocket costs, while 25 per cent experienced out-of- pocket costs of more than $17,200.

The figures do not take into account lost wages if a woman needs to take time off work because of treatment.

“Our report has confirmed that breast cancer can have a significant financial impact on women and their families, which can last many years after the initial diagnosis,” BCNA chief executive Christine Nolan said.

The Financial Impact of Breast Cancer report has made 14 recommendations about how private health insurers, government and health service providers can work together to reduce the financial burden.

They include increasing the Medicare rebates, free parking at hospitals for cancer patients, and the approval of new cancer drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.


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