Be thankful if you are healthy…

As Ezra Klein at The American Prospect points out, the Kaiser Family Foundation put out a sobering study about how cancer has an impact not just on the health of the diagnosed individual, but on the broader family. It has troubling information about the impact of a major disease on a family’s finances, especially if they are uninsured–but even if they are insured:

From the KFF press release:

The survey found that one in four families affected by cancer say the experience led the person with the disease to use up all or most of their savings, and one in eight say they borrowed money from relatives. The illness also made it harder for some to find and keep health insurance – with about one in 10 saying they couldn’t buy health insurance because they had been diagnosed with cancer, and 6% saying they lost their coverage as a result of the disease.

Having health insurance at all times during treatment helped to limit the financial consequences of a cancer diagnosis, but even those with consistent coverage faced difficulties – one in five used up all or most of their savings, one in 10 borrowed money from relatives and 9% were contacted by a collection agency.

Among those who did not have health insurance consistently during their illness, the financial burden was even greater. More than one in four said that they delayed or decided not to get treatment because of its cost – five times the rate reported by those who had health insurance consistently. Nearly half used all or most of their savings; four in 10 were unable to pay for basic necessities; one in three sought the aid of a charity or public assistance program; and 6% filed for personal bankruptcy.

“This is one of the most disturbing of the hundreds of surveys we have done,” said Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew E. Altman, Ph.D. “When people with cancer are deferring care and experiencing such serious financial hardships because of inadequate insurance or because they have no health insurance, it casts a new light on the need to address our nation’s health insurance problems.”

Lots of implications for the California health debate…

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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