Financial issues create significant problems for many cancer patients, yet the impact of this can often be overlooked. It’s a heartbreaking situation when finances interfere with treatment access. This situation cuts across all demographic lines, even in young people starting their careers. More than 70,000 adults (ages 15-39) get a cancer diagnosis each year. For this demographic, concern over student debt can create an extra stressor during their treatment.
In response to this student debt concern, a recent congressional spending package included this change:
- Borrowers can defer student loan payments during cancer treatment and for six months after the conclusion of treatment.
In other words, while cancer is the primary concern, patients with student loan debt will be exempt from federal student loan payments. (Note: this program does not apply to private student loans.) In addition, interest will not accrue during this period of suspended payments. This will surely come as a huge relief to younger cancer patients who now will have one less worry during their treatment.
BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy is heartened to hear this news for cancer patients, since we understand the difficulties of ‘financial toxicity’ – which refers to the associated costs of a patient’s portion of treatment that can create a barrier to treatment. In fact, we have an entire department addressing these issues with patients.
Our patient financial assistance program helps patients work around financial roadblocks to their treatment by connecting patients with financial resources so they can both start and continue treatment. Last year we connected patients with $35 million in patient assistance, in the form of grants, co-pay assistance, and donations, and we are on track to exceed that number this year.