The financial impact of breast cancer
A diagnosis of breast cancer should not mean financial hardship but for many Australian women this is unfortunately the case.
For nearly 20 years BCNA has heard from women about the financial impact of their breast cancer diagnosis on them and their families. They have told us their out-of-pocket costs are sometimes significant, particularly for women who choose to have their treatment in the private health system using private health insurance.
To explore this issue BCNA commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to survey its members about the out-of-pocket costs of their breast cancer treatment and care, and other associated costs. The survey aimed to quantify the out-of-pocket costs faced by a woman in the first five years after a breast cancer diagnosis. Almost 2,000 survey responses were received.
Our report shows that there is a large disparity across the country in the out-of-pocket costs women face following a breast cancer diagnosis. While some women (12 per cent) reported no out-of-pocket costs, one quarter (25 per cent) of all women who completed our survey reported costs of more than $17,200.
Total costs for women with private health insurance are higher than for women without. One quarter of privately insured women reported out-of-pocket costs greater than $21,000.
These figures do not reflect any loss of income that a woman may have if she has to reduce work hours, or give up work altogether, during treatment and beyond. If lost income had been included these figures would have been higher.
We know breast cancer can push women, and their families, to the financial brink, leaving them reliant on financial assistance from family, friends and their communities. By shining a light on the financial impact of breast cancer this report shows us some practical ways that we can make a difference. BCNA will use this report to start conversations with governments, private health insurance companies, health professionals and other cancer organisations about ways we can work together to help reduce the financial impact of breast cancer.
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