Prostate cancer and the uninsured

The costs of first-line prostate cancer treatment for uninsured men (in America as well as elsewhere) are high: anywhere from $17,000 for a course of radiation therapy upwards, depending on the center you go to and the physicians you see.

In California, the IMPACT initiative pays for comprehensive prostate cancer treatment for men who do not qualify for Medi-Cal or Medicare and who have annual incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Treatment and follow-up care are available for up to 12 months. Patients are also eligible to enroll in clinical trials of promising new cancer treatments. However, the IMPACT program is essentially unique. The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink is not aware of any similar program anywhere else in the world. (And we should add that the IMPACT program was created and is directed by Dr. Mark Litwin, who is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink.)

In many European and some Caribbean nations, national health insurance systems provide (a relatively high) standard of basic care regardless of the patient’s financial situation.

Of course if you are affluent, even if you are uninsured (or essentially self-insured), there is still no problem, but in the past few days we have come across two very different patients whose combination of income and insurance status is clearly an issue.

It is also well known that un- and under-insured men may delay seeing a doctor for years, which means they are at high risk for diagnosis with progressive as opposed to localized prostate cancer (or indeed other forms of cancer).

The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink would like to start building a database of resources that may be available to provide assistance for such patients. Better still, if such a resource already exists, we would like to know about it.

If you have ideas or information about such a database: what exists already, what is needed, whether you would like to help us to build it, please don’t hesitate to leave comments below. At the very least it should be possible to identify medical institutions that provide good quality prostate cancer treatment as “charity care” for un- and under-insured patients and organizations that can be approached for uncovered medical costs.


4 Responses

  1. There is information in the social network under the heading “Finances and Cancer.”

    Treatment is not the only problem. I am aware of one man in Virginia who could find funds for treatment if he had prostate cancer but could not find funds to do a biopsy for a very high PSA. The proposed Manton Legislation would have mirrored the program for breast and cervical cancer but we could not get support of the cancer community because of the screening issue.

  2. A little more on this issue. In Virginia there is no coverage under the Medicaid program except under very, very limited circumstances for prostate cancer.

    If there is any hope to expand coverage another objection that needs to be addressed is discussed on the Social Network under the heading “Prostate Cancer Treatment and Patient Survival.”

    If we cannot show that treatment extends survival, it is more difficult to justify spending limited funds on treatment.

  3. Kathy: Unfortunately most of the easily available information is about supportive resources for things like travel, co-pays, etc., as opposed to real resources that cover the costs of treatment for those truly unable to pay. Our goal would be to compile a database of the real resources that are available so that they are easier to find.

  4. Patient Advocate Foundation has a program to pay for treatment for men in Virginia but they have to be diagnosed.

    Also some men can access care through the VA.

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