Paper money flies out of an open front door of a house

The Impact Of Advanced Breast Cancer On Household Finances

Advanced breast cancer has far-reaching effects. Beyond the physical, mental, and emotional effects of the diagnosis, cancer-related expenses may take a serious toll on households of all shapes and sizes.

We conducted our 2020 Advanced Breast Cancer In America survey to learn more about the impact of advanced breast cancer on household finances. More than 540 people with advanced breast cancer completed the survey and provided an interesting look at the financial aspect of the condition.

The financial toll of advanced breast cancer

Financial hardships often go hand-in-hand with advanced breast cancer. Nearly half of all survey respondents said that their cancer diagnosis has had a significant negative financial impact on their household finances. This has led 36 percent of survey respondents to rely on a financial support program. Not surprisingly, 57 percent of survey respondents also say they worry about their family’s future.

Advanced breast cancer and home life

More than 60 percent of survey respondents shared that they are married, while more than 30 percent are single. More than 80 percent of respondents live with someone else, and about 18 percent live alone. The majority of survey respondents (82 percent) also shared that they have children.

Survey respondents also shared details on their annual household income (AHI):

  • 22 percent have AHI of less than $30,000
  • 23 percent have AHI of $30,000-$54,999
  • 14 percent have AHI of $55,000-$74,999
  • B14 percent have AHI of $75,000-$99,999
  • B15 percent have AHI of $100,000-$149,999
  • 5 percent have AHI of $150,000-$199,999
  • 7 percent have AHI of $200,000 or more

Health insurance is another important aspect of advanced breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. However, only 46 percent of survey respondents have group insurance (coverage through their employer or the employer of a spouse or family). Another 42 percent of respondents have coverage through Medicare or Medicaid. Less than half of survey respondents have secondary or supplemental health insurance coverage.

All of these factors contribute to the financial situation of a household and how prepared a person may be able to handle the costs of advanced breast cancer treatment. However, this can vary for each person. For example, more people living in the home, especially if they are children, might lead to greater expenses outside of breast cancer treatment. In contrast, someone who lives with multiple adults who also have income may have greater savings. Insurance status may also play a role in how much personal spending on healthcare is needed.

The need for support

When it comes to managing life with advanced breast cancer, the majority of survey respondents shared that they wanted more emotional support. Lack of financial support and childcare was also reported in nearly 10 percent of respondents. This suggests that although mental and emotional support is a major focus during breast cancer treatment, financial worries do not go unnoticed.

Planning and paying for treatment

The majority of survey respondents (63 percent) shared that the most common reason for picking their treatment plan was its effectiveness. However, many respondents said that financial concerns did play a role in their treatment planning. Insurance coverage was noted to be a deciding factor for 19 percent of survey respondents. Another 11 percent said that the availability of financial assistance for the treatment was a factor. Treatment cost in general was noted to be important for nearly 10 percent of survey respondents.

Overall, although the effectiveness of treatment and emotional support are some of the most important factors in breast cancer care, it is clear that finances also play a significant role. Breast cancer care can be quite expensive, and if a household cannot take on the additional expense, it may greatly impact day-to-day experiences and finances.

The 2020 Breast Cancer In America survey was conducted online from September 2019 through February 2020. 592 people completed the survey.

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