Medical Financial Hardship Tied to Higher Mortality in Cancer Survivors

(HealthDay News) — Medical financial hardship is associated with mortality risk among U.S. cancer survivors, according to a study published online April 20 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

K. Robin Yabroff, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues examined the associations of financial hardship and mortality in a large nationally representative sample of cancer survivors.

The analysis included 14,917 cancer survivors aged 18 to 64 years and 10,391 aged 65 to 79 years participating in the 1997 to 2014 U.S. National Health Interview Survey with linked mortality data through 2015.

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The researchers found that 29.6 percent of cancer survivors aged 18 to 64 years and 11 percent of those aged 65 to 79 years reported financial hardship in the previous 12 months.

Mortality risk was greater among survivors with hardship than their counterparts in both age groups without hardship (18 to 64 years: hazard ratio [HR], 1.17, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.04 to 1.30; 65 to 79 years: HR, 1.14, 95 percent CI, 1.02 to 1.28).

The magnitude of association between hardship and mortality was reduced among survivors aged 18 to 64 years when adjusting for health insurance (HR, 1.09, 95 percent CI, 0.97 to 1.24); however, adjusting for supplemental Medicare coverage had little effect among survivors aged 65 to 79 years (HR, 1.15, 95 percent CI, 1.02 to 1.29).

“Health insurance coverage played a critical role in this association for adults aged 18 to 64 years, underscoring the importance of insurance and access to care for nonelderly adults,” the authors write.

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