A majority (58%) of cancer patients and survivors say they would be less likely to remain current with their recommended preventive care if it came with a cost, according to a new survey by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

Over half (53%) of those surveyed quantified the cost that would present such a barrier at less than $200, with more than a quarter (28%) marking their threshold at $100.

“Thanks to a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires evidence-based prevention and early detection at no cost to patients with private insurance, we’ve seen improved access to recommended services that detect disease when it is less costly to treat and chances of survival are greater,” noted Lisa Lacasse, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “The survey findings confirm that if cost becomes a barrier, even motivated patients who have a history of cancer could delay or at worse forego potentially lifesaving early detection and prevention.”

A March ruling in the case of Braidwood v. Becerra by the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas threatens to restrict access to preventive screenings and services that are proven to save lives by invalidating the ACA provision that requires insurers to cover preventive services at no cost to patients.

Most recently, ACS CAN, along with other leading patient groups, filed an amicus brief late last month supporting the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s motion asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to stay the District Court’s judgement.

“Evidence continues to show just how critical a role cost plays in cancer survivorship; it may be the difference between someone being able to receive their recommended, annual screening to detect cancer early or having to forgo accessing the lifesaving treatments they need,” added Lacasse. “We’re committed to using our voice to ensure that no-cost preventive services as required under the ACA remains protected, access to preventive care remains unchanged and we can continue to save more lives from cancer.”

In addition to coverage for preventive services, respondents were asked their experience and perspectives on patient navigation which were previewed at ACS CAN’s annual health policy forum yesterday in D.C. Nearly all (91%) participants agreed it is important for cancer patients to have access to a patient navigator during their treatment, with an overwhelming majority (75%) noting it is very important.

The survey also found that while most reported positive experiences accessing their provider network, over a quarter (30%) reported facing a challenge in finding a provider. The most significant challenges include limited provider choice and having to switch providers during treatment due to changes in coverage, causing loss of continuity of care.

The data was collected between April 2 and April 20, 2023. A total of 1,311 cohort participants responded to the survey. Differences reported between groups are tested for statistical significance at a 95% confidence interval.

Read the full polling memo here. 

This article was originally published May 11, 2023, by the American Cancer Society. It is republished with permission.