The costs to treat cancer have almost doubled in the past two decades, while the portion of these costs that are paid for by Medicaid and private health insurers has also risen, according to a new study in Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society.
Cancer costs nearly double over 20-year period
Florence Tangka, a health economist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, led a team of scientists from the CDC, Emory University and RTI International to analyze data from the 2001-05 Medical Expenditures Panel Survey and its predecessor, the National Medical Care Expenditure Survey, a one-time survey that was conducted in 1987.
They found that the total medical cost of cancer—in 2007 dollars—was $24.7 billion in 1987, and that private insurance financed 42% of those costs, while Medicare covered 33%. At that time, out-of-pocket payments accounted for 17% of covered costs and Medicaid covered 1%, while other public sources paid for 7%.
Between 1987 and the 2001-05 period, the researchers found, the total medical cost of cancer rose to $48.1 billion, because of new cases diagnosed among the aging population, as well as an increase in the prevalence of the disease. Of that amount, private insurance paid for 50% of the costs and Medicare paid for 34%, while out-of-pocket payments accounted for 8% and Medicaid covered 3% of costs.
“The information provided in this study enhances our understanding of the burden of cancer on specific payers and how this burden may change as a result of health reform measures or other changes to healthcare financing and delivery,” Tangka said in a news release about the findings.
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