Access to health care is critical to reducing suffering and death from cancer and other chronic illnesses. Yet too many patients face barriers accessing the lifesaving prescription drugs, therapies and treatments they need because of out-of-pocket costs and insurer policies. Through state and federal advocacy, ACS CAN fights across the country to ensure that cancer patients and other individuals with complex and chronic illnesses have timely access to care, treatment services and prescription drugs.
Telling stories of patients and caretakers who have experienced these barriers to cancer care can help our lawmakers understand why it is critical to protect patients from these unnecessary hardships. Countless families have faced these barriers: read and watch some of their stories below.
Access to health care is critical to reducing suffering and death from cancer and other chronic illnesses. Yet too many patients face barriers accessing the lifesaving prescription drugs, therapies and treatments they need because of out-of-pocket costs and insurer policies. Hear three stories of the difficulties individuals face in getting the care they need.
When Mary’s mother-in-law, Wilma, decided to enroll in a clinical trial at the end of her life, she did it because she knew it could help someone else. Now, Mary wants everyone – regardless of what type of insurance they have – to be able to enroll in a clinical trial if they choose.
Monica is a 28-year cancer survivor and is currently being treated for stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Even after 28 years, Monica still needs to constantly fight with her insurance company, which requires prior authorization any time she receives a new prescription.
Mariah is a childhood cancer survivor who, at 41, continues to suffer numerous treatment-related side effects. She has to fight her insurance company every three months to get the care she needs.
DeAnn has been an oncology nurse for over 20 years, and throughout her career, has experienced the frustrating barriers patients go through to get the care they need.
Faye’s insurance company often denies doctor-ordered scans and treatments, sometimes creating delays of over a month. While the insurance company made Faye wait, her cancer didn’t.
Dr. Mullin has been a physician for over 30 years and has seen countless patients skip medications because they cannot afford them.
In 2005, Flecia was diagnosed with very aggressive breast cancer. Fortunately, she qualified for Medicaid, which enabled her to enroll in a clinical trial.
Though Rachel’s physician knew she needed an MRI, she also knew that she wouldn’t get her insurance to approve it without first prescribing physical therapy. Rachel had to endure weeks of pain and damage to her back before she was finally able to get an MRI, which revealed her cancer diagnosis.
When Bev began treatment for neck cancer it was critical that she didn’t vomit after chemotherapy since the bile would affect her treatment. Yet her insurance company wanted to force her to try cheaper medications than the one she knew worked for her.
Sandra found a medication that finally cured her debilitating migraines. But after a few years, the medication was no longer available as a generic drug, and her insurance company would not cover it. Now, Sandra suffers through her migraines again, even though she knows there is a medicine out there that works for her.
Valeria’s asthma medications are critical for her health and to keep her out of the hospital. But sometimes she can’t afford those medications.
Dr. Woodbury spends hours on the phone every day fighting with insurance companies over necessary care and treatments and wants to see these issues resolved in Tennessee.