Health Care Costs a Major Barrier for Young Adult Cancer SurvivorsMany young adult cancer survivors do not seek routine medical care because of cost concerns, according to a new study. Even after accounting for health insurance status, survivors of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancers were much more likely to forgo care in the prior year because of cost concerns, researchers reported September 24 in Cancer.
The results point to potentially serious consequences for AYA cancer survivors, the authors explained. “Medical care in the years following cancer therapy is particularly important to screen survivors for late effects, such as secondary cancers, infertility, and cardiac conditions,” they wrote.
Although the greater availability of health insurance for young adults as a result of the Affordable Care Act will help, they continued, the study indicates “that improvements in post-treatment health care access must be prioritized for this population.”
The study focused on long-term survivors diagnosed and treated between the ages of 15 and 34.
To conduct the study, the researchers used 2009 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a nationwide, state-based system of health surveys conducted each month by telephone. The study included responses from 979 AYA cancer survivors between the ages of 20 and 39 who were at least 5 years past their cancer diagnosis (case subjects) and approximately 67,000 people in the same age range who did not have a history of cancer (control subjects).
Overall, 34 percent of survivors reported forgoing routine care because of cost, compared with 20 percent of control subjects. The groups most affected by cost concerns were survivors between the ages of 20 and 29 and female survivors, Dr. Anne Kirchhoff of the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah and her colleagues reported.
AYA survivors also reported being in poor or fair health more often (27 percent versus 9 percent for control subjects) and experiencing frequent mental or physical distress. Forty percent of survivors had not had a routine medical visit in the past year, and 22 percent did not have a personal medical care provider.