When Costs Create a Barrier

Cancer treatment options continue to improve the chances of survival for cancer patients across the board, which is excellent news! However, the costs of treatment can sometimes keep treatment out of reach for patients; it’s a heartbreaking situation when finances interfere with treatment access.

Just how often do financial barriers actually get in the way of cancer treatment access? One recent study reported that high out-of-pocket costs (which in this study were deemed $2,000 or more for a patient) resulted in half of patients not getting the oral cancer medications prescribed for their treatment. For these patients, a doctor had diagnosed cancer and prescribed treatment approved by each patient’s insurance – yet the patients felt the out-of-pocket price tag exceeded what they could pay. Thus, these patients left their cancer untreated. In this study, one out of every eight cancer patients experienced out-of-pocket costs higher than $2,000, and 50% of the patients in this cost group didn’t get their treatment medications.

Similarly, other research finds that about 38% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are concerned about the financial hardships of their upcoming treatment. This study went on to point out that financial issues are an important – yet overlooked – area that physicians should be discussing with cancer patients.

BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy understands the difficulties of financial toxicity – a term referring to the high cost of a patient’s portion of treatment cost that serves as a barrier to treatment. We offer patients assistance in overcoming this barrier. Our patient financial assistance program helps patients work around financial roadblocks to their treatment by connecting patients with financial resources such as foundation grants and co-pay assistance programs.


Jagsi R, Ward KC, Abrahamse PH, et al. Unmet need for clinician engagement regarding financial toxicity after diagnosis of breast cancer. Cancer doi: 10.1002/cncr.31532; published online July 23, 2018.

Press release. High out-of-pocket costs may place oral cancer medications out of reach. Penn Medicine December 20, 2017.