Cancer patients are particularly vulnerable to spikes in their health care costs because many expensive diagnostic tests and treatments are scheduled within a short period of time, so cancer patients spend their deductible and out-of-pocket maximum quickly. These costs can be difficult to manage over the course of a year, and most monthly budgets simply can’t afford these large bills.
Some Patients Lack Access to Lower-cost Drug Alternatives
Many cancer patients take multiple drugs as part of their treatment – often for many months or years. While drugs are not the only costly part of cancer treatment, finding ways to reduce these costs for patients and payers will significantly reduce the overall cost burden of cancer. Biosimilars and generics are lower cost alternative versions to some cancer drugs that may become available after the original drug manufacturer has sold their brand exclusively for a few years. But some patients are not aware that there might be a lower cost alternative to their cancer drug. They also may not know whether their plan covers lower cost alternatives.
Carla’s targeted therapy for her stage III breast cancer cost her and her insurer nearly $75,000 over two years. If she had access to a biosimilar, those overall costs would have decreased by over 20%.
ACS CAN Fights for Solutions
ACS CAN supports efforts to ensure biosimilar and generic drugs are available to patients either through prescription from their doctor or appropriate substitutions at the pharmacy. ACS CAN also encourages policymakers to explore ways to incentivize the use of biosimilars through reducing or eliminating cost sharing for patients.
The Costs of Cancer report uses hypothetical scenarios of typical cancer patients like Carla to show what patients pay and their challenges affording care. Read more about Carla, the costs of her cancer care, and policy solutions to keep costs down.