New study finds childhood cancer survivors commonly stay at jobs to keep health insurance

October 19, 2017, University of Utah

The results of a national cancer survey find a significant number of childhood cancer survivors are worried about keeping their health insurance, to the point of letting it affect their career decisions. The findings were published today in JAMA Oncology.

Anne Kirchhoff, PhD, investigator at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah and assistant professor of pediatrics, led the study. Her goal was to examine the prevalence of job lock in full-time, employed childhood . Job lock is when an employee stays at a job in order to keep work-related .

The study found 23 percent of reported job lock, compared to just under 17 percent of the survivors' siblings who never had cancer.

"Even with protections and expansions of in the U.S., this study proves there is still quite a bit of worry about insurance," says Kirchhoff, "and it's affecting how people make decisions from a job standpoint. Employer-based insurance coverage is the most common way people get insurance in the U.S. If someone gets stuck in a certain job because they want to keep their insurance coverage, that could really affect their earning power across a lifetime. It could potentially stymie their ability to start a new company or take on a job that would allow them to have more career or income growth, all because of health insurance worries."

The study found female survivors and survivors with were more likely to report job lock. Researchers also determined survivors who had a history of problems paying medical bills and those with past health insurance denials were more likely to report feeling like they couldn't change because of insurance worries.

Kirchhoff says, "This information gives us a feel for high-risk groups of survivors who may need more information about insurance. Many people experience a gap in education and literacy around insurance, and it's important for people to understand their options - even those who are employed and consistently had access to insurance through work. We want to know what their concerns are so we can help patients and survivors. Getting should not be a worry for cancer survivors."

The study analyzed 394 pediatric cancer survivors from pediatric oncology institutions across the U.S., along with 128 of their siblings. All of the participants worked 35 hours or more per week. Eighty-eight percent of them had employer-sponsored health insurance. Only four percent of survivors (and just over six percent of siblings) were uninsured.

The cancer survivors were treated for cancer between birth and age 20, and all of the participants ranged in age at the time of the survey from their 20s to early 60s. They were asked to fill out surveys analyzing their insurance and work concerns.

Childhood cancer survivors were chosen to study because their life experiences are unique. Childhood cancer patients have seen tremendous growth in outcomes and survival over the years. But many times their strong treatments as children can lead to health problems as they get older. Certain chemotherapies can increase a patient's risk of chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, down the road. Treatments can cause infertility, and second cancers and lung issues can appear in some patients. About a third of pediatric survivors in this survey reported a severe, disabling or life-threatening chronic condition. The study showed the patients' past diagnosis can often shape their insurance and health care decisions later in life.

"Survivors have been through a lot when they were younger and understand the importance of making sure they can get health care when they need it," explains Kirchhoff. "I think a lot of them also saw what their parents and families went through in terms of the financial stress and burden of dealing with a health crisis. So they're just primed to understand the importance of ."

Explore further: Out-of-pocket health costs can cause financial problems for survivors of childhood cancer

Related Stories

Out-of-pocket health costs can cause financial problems for survivors of childhood cancer

August 22, 2017
Adult survivors of childhood cancer face an increased likelihood of financial difficulties related to out-of-pocket costs for their health care, compared with adults not affected by childhood cancer. In their report published ...

Young cancer survivors often forgo medical care due to costs

September 24, 2012
Many survivors of adolescent and young adult cancers avoid routine medical care because it's too expensive, despite the fact that most have health insurance. That is the conclusion of a new study published early online in ...

Comprehensive study of chronic disease reveals vulnerability of childhood cancer survivors

September 7, 2017
The most complete assessment yet of chronic disease in adult survivors of childhood cancer found they have a nearly two-fold greater cumulative burden of chronic health problems than the general public. The St. Jude Children's ...

HPV vaccination rates lag for vulnerable population of childhood cancer survivors

August 24, 2017
Despite being at an increased risk for cancers associated with the human papillomavirus, the first comprehensive national survey found that HPV vaccination rates for childhood cancer survivors lag well behind the national ...

Childhood cancer survivors hospitalized frequently years after cancer treatment

June 12, 2014
Survivors of childhood cancers were hospitalized more often and for longer durations because of blood disorders and other problems, many years after cancer treatment was completed, compared with the general population, according ...

Mental distress common in survivors of teen, young adult CA

November 23, 2016
(HealthDay)—Survivors of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer are more likely to have mental distress than individuals without cancer, but most do not talk to mental health professionals, according to a study published ...

Recommended for you

Study tracks evolutionary transition to destructive cancer

February 23, 2018
Evolution describes how all living forms cope with challenges in their environment, as they struggle to persevere against formidable odds. Mutation and selective pressure—cornerstones of Darwin's theory—are the means ...

Researchers use a molecular Trojan horse to deliver chemotherapeutic drug to cancer cells

February 23, 2018
A research team at the University of California, Riverside has discovered a way for chemotherapy drug paclitaxel to target migrating, or circulating, cancer cells, which are responsible for the development of tumor metastases.

Lab-grown 'mini tumours' could personalise cancer treatment

February 23, 2018
Testing cancer drugs on miniature replicas of a patient's tumour could help doctors tailor treatment, according to new research.

An under-the-radar immune cell shows potential in fight against cancer

February 23, 2018
One of the rarest of immune cells, unknown to scientists a decade ago, might prove to be a potent weapon in stopping cancer from spreading in the body, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

Putting black skin cancer to sleep—for good

February 22, 2018
An international research team has succeeded in stopping the growth of malignant melanoma by reactivating a protective mechanism that prevents tumor cells from dividing. The team used chemical agents to block the enzymes ...

Cancer risk associated with key epigenetic changes occurring through normal aging process

February 22, 2018
Some scientists have hypothesized that tumor-promoting changes in cells during cancer development—particularly an epigenetic change involving DNA methylation—arise from rogue cells escaping a natural cell deterioration ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.