Financial Advocates: Helping to Close the Gap

Amanda Patton, ACCC Communications

Hands-creating-circle-of-supportThe just-released 2016 CancerCare Patient Access and Engagement Report provides the oncology community with a comprehensive look at cancer patients’ perspectives of real-world issues that accompany patients along the care continuum from diagnosis through treatment and beyond. The landmark study encompasses six surveys capturing responses from 3,000 cancer patients representing a broad diversity of ethnicity, income, education, geography, age, insurance, cancer type, and treatment stage.

Cancer program staff who serve as financial advocates helping patients navigate the economic challenges cancer brings will not be surprised by the results of Survey 4: Financial and Insurance Issues. Among the survey’s key findings:

  • Only about half of respondents report understanding their health insurance coverage for their cancer care “completely” or “very well.”
  • 58% of respondents reported being distressed about their finances during treatment.
  • 20% to 30% of patients reported having trouble estimating their out-of-pocket costs before incurring medical expenses.
  • To afford treatment, one-third of respondents (ages 25 to 54) reported cutting back on daily necessities, including groceries and transportation, and/or borrowed from family members and friends.

As these findings show, financial toxicity remains a top-level issue for patients with cancer, and the need to close the gaps in addressing the economic impact of cancer on patients and their families is critical.

At many cancer programs today, financial advocates are helping to close these gaps by:

  • Helping patients understand the costs of care;
  • Facilitating pre-authorizations and pre-certifications;
  • Connecting patients with patient assistance programs, copay support programs, and foundation support;
  • Accessing community resources to meet patient financial needs, and more.

The ACCC Financial Advocacy Network (FAN) is a partner in this effort bringing training, resources, and peer-to-peer support to oncology financial navigators and advocates.  The  Financial Advocacy Network (FAN) Case-Based Workshops bring these professionals together to share effective practices and strategies for the evolving healthcare coverage landscape, and to join in collaborative problem solving.  Learn more and view upcoming workshop schedule here.

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