25% of patients delayed or altered treatments due to high copayments according to study presented at the 5th ESO-ESMO International Consensus Conference on Advanced Breast Cancer
Belong.Life, creator of the “Belong- Beating Cancer Together” mobile app, the world’s largest interactive social network for cancer patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals, has published a study showing that almost half of advanced breast cancer (ABC) patients in the US suffering from “financial toxicity” cite medical copayments as their primary financial burden. 25% of surveyed patients delayed treatments or used less expensive or alternate medications due to high copayments. The research was presented today at the 5th ESO-ESMO International Consensus Conference on Advanced Breast Cancer in Lisbon.
The study surveyed 189 Belong.Life users and explored the extent of the financial burden of ABC. 87% of respondents reported financial difficulties during their cancer journeys. Of that cohort, 57% blamed their medical copayments. 94% of those that did were US based patients. High drug costs (38%) and added living and transportation costs (13%) were also cited. Patients under the age of 50 were most likely to report experiencing “financial toxicity,” while those above 65 were the least likely to do so.
“Financial toxicity during cancer treatment can create more pressure at an already fragile time,” principle author of the study, Dr. Daniel Vorobiof, said. “We need to begin discussing the financial burden of cancer from the moment a patient is diagnosed. Physicians should become aware of possible risks for financial toxicity and, just like any other treatment side effect, work together with their patients to address the problem by helping them make informed decisions.”
Financial toxicity is defined by the National Cancer Institute as “Not having health insurance or having a lot of costs for medical care not covered by health insurance [which] can cause financial problems and may lead to debt or bankruptcy.”
The study also showed that patients addressed their financial difficulty in different ways with 41% receiving support from family and friends, 11% gaining support from advocacy groups and 11% using crowdfunding methods.
“This vital study demonstrates the importance of engaging medical patients to understand the full scope of disease burden,” said Eliran Malki, CEO and Co-Founder of Belong.Life. “Currently published data tends to focus on the perspective of payers, providers, or pharma. Sometimes, the unique and valuable perspective of the patient is lost in the mix. Real world data is crucial in order to understand the many variables of disease and treatment and Belong is pleased to provide a platform to better understand and improve the patient journey.”
Founded in 2015, Belong – Beating Cancer Together is a free patient navigation app that allows cancer patients and their support network to explore and better manage the treatment journey and improve quality of life. The Belong global community gains access to a proprietary big data platform and machine learning technology that enables people to connect, receive and share clinical information anonymously and to privately discuss issues related to their condition. The Belong Patient Engagement Platform provides healthcare organizations with an end-to-end solution that includes personalized and configurable patient engagement tools, navigation and management services. Today, Belong is the world’s largest digital cancer patient platform and has partnerships with leading patient advocacy associations, including the American Cancer Society, GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, Colorectal Cancer Canada, as well as many healthcare providers and pharma companies. The company also conducts research, collaborates with leading universities and has published research with The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and other organizations.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.