Out-of-pocket Expenses Burden Cancer Patients in
Newfoundland and Labrador
Dr. Maria Mathews, NLCAHR Project and Development Grant Recipient
In Canada, treatment for cancer is covered by provincial health plans, but some costs, such as travel to and from the cancer clinic, lodging, meals, and drugs, are paid either by private health insurance or are paid out-of-pocket by most patients or their families.
Dr. Maria Mathews and her co-investigators set out to determine
exactly how much Newfoundland and Labrador cancer patients spend on
their health care and whether these additional expenses had an effect
on patients’ decision-making about the care they would
The study surveyed nearly 500 cancer patients and also interviewed care providers to learn that 43% of rural patients pay between $200 and $1000 for each trip to see an oncologist. While stage of illness and personal feelings are the main factors affecting decisions about care, 58.7% of rural patients and 39.9% of urban patients say that out-of-pocket expenses factor into their decision-making. Health-care providers say that patients who have financial concerns may be making choices that reduce the effectiveness of care, such as reducing the number of recommended pills taken.
Matthews and her team also compared funding for travel costs in Newfoundland and Labrador with other provincial funding schemes.