In this report, Macmillan highlights the hidden costs and unexpected financial consequences of a cancer diagnosis. Macmillan talk to people every day about their money worries and know that cancer brings with it the risk of financial hardship. So they commissioned UK-wide research to shed new light on the scale and scope of this problem.
Four in five people with cancer are affected by the financial impact of cancer, on average incurring costs of £570 a month. The research findings show the financial impact of cancer is extremely high: four in five (83%) people are affected and, on average, are £570 a month worse off because of a cancer diagnosis. People may stop working and face a loss of income, whilst having to cope with additional costs. These include costs associated with regular trips to medical appointments and spiralling household bills, including the cost of heating the home, because a person with cancer often feels the cold more.
Reduced income is a major factor of financial hardship. Almost one in three (30%) people living with cancer experienced a loss of income as a result of their diagnosis; those affected lose, on average, £860 a month. A third of respondents (33%) stopped working either permanently or temporarily.
The most common additional cost people living with cancer face is getting to and from hospital, or making other healthcare visits. Costs associated with outpatient appointments hit almost three-quarters (71%) of people living with cancer, and over a quarter (28%) incurred costs for inpatient appointments.
The cost of day-to-day living can dramatically increase after a cancer diagnosis. More than half (54%) of people living with cancer experience higher day-to-day living costs, such as heating the home or paying for help around the home or garden. This, on average, adds up to an extra £63 a month for those affected.
A significant proportion (41%) of people living with cancer incurred costs for other healthcare needs, with those affected paying out, on average, £41 a month. The most common cost was for over-the-counter or prescription medicines, despite people living with cancer across the UK being eligible for free prescriptions.
Over a third (37%) of respondents incurred costs for clothing, specialised equipment and home modifications, with those affected spending, on average, £70 a month. Replacement clothing was the most common cost, although home modifications were particularly expensive for those who needed them.
The research also shows that the financial burden does not fall equally. Factors including the type of cancer a person has and their income at the time of diagnosis influences how they’re affected. The types of costs a person is affected by also varies according to which country in the UK they live in.
This report provides an overview of Macmillan’s research and highlights a significant and complex problem. Macmillan call upon governments across the UK, the NHS and businesses to help them develop detailed policy solutions to address these issues.
Some actions can be taken now that will immediately help to ease the financial burden many people affected by cancer have to cope with, for example:
- Government can make sure people affected by cancer can claim and receive vital benefits when they need them most; they can make sure welfare support is maintained and people affected by cancer are protected from any future cuts to the welfare budget; and they can help people living with cancer return to or remain in work by providing return to work support, including vocational rehabilitation
- The NHS can help to make sure people with cancer can access support and information on finances and work at the earliest opportunity, and they can abolish car parking charges for people with cancer in line with policy and guidance
- Employers can improve their policies and practice to make sure all staff affected by cancer can remain in or return to work, if they wish to do so. The financial services industry can help to make sure customers affected by cancer receive specialist support from the industry so they can manage their financial commitments and maintain their financial wellbeing throughout their cancer journey; and they can make sure financial products designed to alleviate the impact of serious illness are accessible, transparent and consistently deliver promised support when it is needed
- Energy companies can work closely with Macmillan to improve service standards for customers with cancer. This will allow Macmillan to reach and support more people living with cancer who have worries about energy costs.