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Economic Impact of Cancer

The financial costs of cancer are high for both the person with cancer and for society as a whole.

The Agency for Healthcare research and Quality (AHRQ) estimates that the direct medical costs (total of all health care costs) for cancer in the US in 2011 were $88.7 billion.

  • 50% of this cost is for hospital outpatient or doctor office visits
  • 35% of this cost is for inpatient hospital stays
  • 11% of this cost is for prescription drugs
PLEASE NOTE: These estimates are based on a set of large-scale surveys of individuals and their medical providers called the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). Estimates were accessed directly from the MEPS website, www.meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/.

One of the major costs of cancer is cancer treatment. But lack of health insurance and other barriers to health care prevent many Americans from getting optimal health care.

  • According to the US Census Bureau, about 48 million people (15.4%) in the US were uninsured in 2012.
  • About 10% of children in the United States had no health insurance coverage in 2012.

And according to Cancer Facts & Figures 2015, “Uninsured patients and those from ethnic minorities are substantially more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at a later stage, when treatment can be more extensive, more costly, and less successful.”

This year, about 589,430 US residents are expected to die of cancer – that’s more than 1,600 people a day. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease. Cancer accounts for nearly 1 out of every 4 deaths in the United States.

Cancer costs us billions of dollars. It also costs us the people we love. Reducing barriers to cancer care is critical in the fight to eliminate suffering and death due to cancer.

Contact your American Cancer Society any time, day or night, for cancer information and support. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.

References

American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2015. Atlanta, Ga. 2015.


Last Medical Review: 02/06/2015
Last Revised: 02/06/2015