TUESDAY, Jan. 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) — More than 70 percent of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) have major financial hardship (MFH) at one year, despite being insured, according to a study published online Jan. 4 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Veena Shankaran, M.D., from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues examined financial hardship in 380 mCRC patients aged 18 years or older (78 percent White, 98 percent insured, 57 percent with annual income ≤$50,000) within 120 days of mCRC diagnosis. The cumulative incidence of MFH, defined as one or more of increased debt, new loans from family and/or friends, selling or refinancing a home, or ≥20 percent decline in income, was estimated. Quarterly questionnaires were completed for 12 months.

The researchers found that at 12 months, the cumulative incidence of MFH was 71.3 percent. There were no significant associations observed for age, race, marital status, or income (split at $50,000 per year) with MFH. Greater MFH was seen in association with income <$100,000 and total assets <$100,000. There was an association between MFH at three months and reduced social functioning and quality of life at six months.

“Nearly all patients in this study had health insurance coverage and still the vast majority reported major financial hardship, which suggests having health insurance may no longer be sufficient to protect patients and families from financial hardship and its adverse health sequelae,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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