Study: many young cancer survivors don't get followup care due to costs

A new study published in Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, shows that many survivors of adolescent and young adult cancers don't get the routine medical care they need after basic treatment because it's too expensive—even though most of them have health insurance. Translation: in America, even when you have insurance, cancer is financially devastating. So much so that young survivors (= teens through thirties) tend to not get the followup care they need to continue surviving. (thanks, @zooko)


  1. Well, perhaps they should have thought about that before getting cancer. I mean, they already displayed poor judgement by not being very wealthy, so this is basically their own fault.

  2. I had a kidney removed about 3 years ago, i was 26.  they’d found a tumor, it was small, but the kidney came out. My doctor told me to get a scan every 6 months for the next 5 years.  well,  3 years later i’ve had 3 of them, because every time it took a 4 month fight with the insurance company to get them to pay for the doctor ordered follow up scans. last year my wife’s insurance was changed by her boss, without her input (chase). Now our insurance is pretty much crap, with a giant deductible before they’ll pay anything, and a great many things that were covered before are now on us.  I doubt i’ll be getting any more 15k cat scans.  (why the fuck is an hour in a cat scan worth 15 thousand dollars anyway?). I guess i’ll just have to hope for the best, and pray she doesn’t get fired before we can move to canada.

    1. The hell? I got a CAT scan once for a cat (the irony) and it was under $1k here in Canuckistan (and I had insurance on said cat, which covered 80% of the cost.)

      I know how smug we Canadians sound whenever this stuff comes up, and our system is far from perfect, but I seriously don’t understand why you guys aren’t rioting in the streets.

      Best of luck with your kidney – I’m really sorry about your sucky situation.

  3. I was about to add something snarky like “yay for the invisible hand!” … but how come it isn’t possible to make money off offering CAT scans for (way way) less than USD 15k?

    1. There are trailers that camp in business parking lots and do MRI scans for some hundreds of dollars. If I recall correctly, you could get a full-body scan for $600. Not sure if there’s a reason that a CT would be 25 times the price of an MRI, but it seems unlikely.

  4. I had “platinum” insurance. I got cancer at 29. I had 5 years of follow up “protocol”. I skipped the last two because of cost and spent more than 3 years fighting the insurance companies, providers and debt collectors for payments that were 100% covered by my plan but not paid by the insurance company. I prevailed, eventually, because I had the time, money, persistence, and English reading/writing comprehension to fight this. How many of the other patients lacked one of those and gave up? Enough to make a *killing*. 

    I had platinum insurance. I had to fight every inch. I beat the cancer. Then it took me three more years to beat the f*cking insurance mafia. 

    Public Option I say. 

  5. Hell, I’m a young person covered by my family’s insurance plan. I don’t have cancer, but I can barely keep the lights on and pay the copays for my medicine and treatment for a serious mental illness. I just chose to pursue a master’s degree, in part because I can stay on my parent’s plan longer, because it’s better than paying out of pocket in my current situation with my illness. 

  6. Whenever I read about the US health system I wonder why anyone who has a skill or recognized qualification should stay.  Surely it would be better to emigrate to Europe just in case.  Or is it really that the harrowing horror stories are actually rare enough that some other positive side of the US makes it worth taking the risk?  If my company relocated me to the US I would be covered by a pretty good plan but what I hear of the US health system makes me think that I wouldn’t consider staying if I had to buy my own insurance and I would make sure I retained a strong connection with my current country of residence so that I could move back (Norway).

  7. I’m a young cancer survivor (leukemia treatment from age 17-20). I’m now nearing 30, and yeah, follow-up treatment sucks.  Fortunately, I have some sneaky doctors who manage to run my blood tests as part of my continuing neurological and gynecological healthcare.

    I’m in grad school at a public university in Texas, and the student coverage available doesn’t cover any of the problems I have, many of which are after-effects of the chemotherapy. “Fortunately”, the state of Texas has a Health Pool offering insurance to “un-insurables” like myself. Unfortunately, it costs twice the average private insurance rate for my age group, so $650 per month.

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