According to a surprising new study, the cost of treating cancer in the United States nearly doubled over the past two decades, however expensive cancer drugs may not be the main reason why. The study also finds cancer accounts for only 5 percent of the total US medical costs , and that has not changed in the last few decades. The researchers conclude that rising costs were mainly driven by the growing number of cancer patients; the soaring price of new cancer treatments has received widespread attention. About 50 percent, though taken aback by some of the findings, the researchers also found that private insurers now cover a greater share of cancer treatment costs, while patients out of pocket costs have fallen over the past two decade.
The researchers have also found the following; the author said “The percentage of cancer costs from inpatient hospital care fell from 64 percent to about 27 percent. A shift to less expensive outpatient care, along with cost containment efforts by large health insurers, helped keep down increases in the costs per patient. The proportion of cancer costs paid by private insurance rose from 42 to 50 percent. The proportion of costs paid out of pocket by patients — including co-payments and deductibles — dropped from 17 percent to 8 percent”
It may be noted that in the current study, the researchers used nationally representative data from the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey conducted from 2001 through 2005. Accroding to health economist Thomas E. Getzen said “What we should be most concerned about is whether we are getting better at treating cancer -- if your dollars spent are making Americans healthier. It appears to be essentially in line with [proportional to] other increases in medical costs.”.