Sweet Charity: Nonprofits Help Pay for Cancer Drugs, Insurance

Many nonprofit organizations aid patients in paying for their cancer drugs or health insurance.
BY MARK CANTRELL
PUBLISHED: NOVEMBER 16, 2016
Diagnosed with cancer when she was
already having financial difficulties,
MARIANNE MORGAN was able to complete
her medical treatments with help from
the nonprofit HealthWell, which provides
grants to eligible patients. - PHOTO BY STEPHANIE BOUGH
Diagnosed with cancer when she was already having financial difficulties, MARIANNE MORGAN was able to complete her medical treatments with help from the nonprofit HealthWell, which provides grants to eligible patients. - PHOTO BY STEPHANIE BOUGH
It was 2009, and Marianne Morgan was having a bad year. A manufacturing business she ran with her partner was failing, and the resulting lack of income caused them to lose their home. Being diagnosed with breast cancer was almost too much to bear.

“I went to pick up my medication, and it came to $480, which I didn’t have,” she remembers. “I went home and told my partner, ‘I can’t afford this; we don’t have the money.’ I felt like I’d reached the bottom of the barrel.”

Morgan is by no means alone. According to the American Cancer Society, the total direct cost of cancer treatment in the United States was $88.7 billion in 2011. Since then, costs have continued to rise.

New and promising drugs and treatments are rapidly being brought to market, but often come with astronomical costs. According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the average price of new drugs has been increasing by 10 percent annually since 1995, or about $8,500 a year.

Cancer care can be particularly expensive, with some of the newer targeted drugs or immunotherapies — often only part of a patient’s medication regimen — costing in the neighborhood of $100,000 for a year’s worth of treatment. The amount patients are reimbursed for these costs can vary, depending on their insurers and plans.

The prevalence of such health care woes has resulted in a new term: financial toxicity, defined as any financial harm that patients experience as a result of the cost of their treatment.



Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Discussions CURE discussion group.
x-button
 
CURE wants to hear from you! We are inviting you to Share Your Story with the readers of CURE. Submit your personal experience with cancer by visiting Share Your Story
 
Not yet receiving CURE in your mailbox? Sign up to receive CURE Magazine by visiting GetCureNow.com
x