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Strides in Health Insurance Make Cancer Treatment More Affordable

It's no secret that the medications, surgeries, and methods used to treat breast cancer are expensive. Without insurance, it can host hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Posted: Oct 18, 2018 9:39 AM
Updated: Oct 18, 2018 10:41 PM

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- It's no secret that the medications, surgeries, and methods used to treat breast cancer are expensive. Without insurance, it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

"Cancer treatments and medications are astronomically high, they are quite expensive," says Dr. Amr Hassan, the Medical Director at the Sky Lakes Cancer Treatment Center. 

When you add up screenings, surgeries, radiation, medication, and chemotherapy it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

"Unless you're very wealthy most people would not have the money in their bank account to pay for that," says Dr. Brad Kramer, a Radiation Oncologist at Sky Lakes Cancer Treatment Center. 

Thankfully, those out-of-pocket costs have dropped or are now covered by insurance. Dr. Hassan tells NewsWatch12 there is, "no patient that pays hundreds of thousands of dollars, not even a fraction of that."

Since 2010 the Affordable Care Act has required all new health insurance plans to cover mammograms every one to two years with no out-of-pocket costs for women 40 or older. Dr. Kramer says having insurance that covers screenings is essential for preventing breast cancer, or increasing chances of survival. 

"Hopefully those people will all come in to get their physical exam with their primary , they'll talk about screening, they'll get diagnosed earlier and have a better survival," says Dr. Kramer. 

Still, some women do slip through the cracks and are uninsured. Dr. Kramer says if that's the case that many people will choose to not get therapy or to not go in for preventative screenings if they can't afford it. 

Both Dr. Kramer and Dr. Hassan tell NewsWatch12 the amount of women walking into the Sky Lakes Cancer Treatment Center without insurance is now fairly uncommon. 

"Unfortunately we run into situations where the patients might not be able to find the financial help or coverage but those are quite rare and thankfully so," says Dr. Hassan. 

Now many medical institutions, like Sky Lakes, as well as various hospital foundations are stepping up to help those women in need. They offer free preventative services, amenities, and treatment plans for the men and women who qualify. 

While huge strides have been made in covering the cost of breast cancer treatment, many women are still paying thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Sky Lakes says the dollar amount cancer patients pay depends on what kind of insurance they have. 

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