Majority of Cancer Patients and Survivors Continue to be Concerned About Healthcare Policy and Coverage Changes


NEW YORK,  /PRNewswire/ -- More than half (59%) of cancer patients and survivors feel concerned that potential policy changes related to having a pre-existing condition will limit their access to healthcare and insured patients and survivors are concerned they may lose healthcare coverage due to national healthcare policy changes (46%), according to new national survey results from Cancer and Careers, a U.S. non-profit organization dedicated to empowering and educating people with cancer to thrive in their workplace. Concerns about how policy changes at the national level will affect healthcare access and costs have remained consistent over the last two years. In both 2017 and 2018, a majority of surveyed cancer patients and survivors (73% in 2017; 76% in 2018) expressed concern about rising out-of-pocket costs, while 53% were worried that potential policy changes to lifetime limits or annual caps would limit their access to healthcare in 2017, compared to 55% in 2018.

The annual online survey, conducted between September 21 and October 22, 2018 by The Harris Poll, was designed to better understand the experience of 882 cancer patients and survivors who are either employed or unemployed but looking for work. Results show that employers and human resources (HR) teams have the opportunity to play a crucial role in the experience of working people with cancer. Four out of five (79%) agreed that patients and survivors who receive support from their employer are more likely to thrive in the workplace.

"As both a former human resources professional and a cancer survivor, I know the uncertainty and worry that occurs after a diagnosis and how that can impact all aspects of your life, including work. It's not surprising that most respondents believe employer support is crucial," said Kathy Flora, Career Coach for Cancer and Careers and former Human Resources Executive. "Employers and by extension, HR teams and managers, can be instrumental in helping employees figure out how to balance work and health demands if they decide they want to stay on the job."

While it is important for HR to offer support and guidance, they are the least likely audience for disclosure with just one quarter of employed respondents (26%) sharing their diagnosis with HR (this excludes 16% of respondents who did not have an HR department). Of those employed respondents who disclosed their diagnosis to HR, more than half (61%) asked them for guidance on balancing work and cancer. After the conversations with HR the most common sentiments were feeling supported (56%), understood (45%), and relieved (42%), although almost one in five felt stressed (17%) and worried (15%). Additionally, about three in ten employed respondents regardless of whether they disclosed to HR said they would like their HR team to provide assistance in better understanding their health insurance plan (33%) and/or information on company policies like flexible schedules and paid time off (31%).

Additional survey highlights include:

  • Over the last two years, more than half (53% in 2017; 56% in 2018) of insured patients and survivors surveyed said there are things that their health insurance doesn't cover that they wish it did.
  • More than half (53%) of respondents felt that resources and/or support programs are needed to address cancer survivors' workplace concerns.
  • 64% of employed and unemployed respondents agreed that working through treatment helps or helped them cope.
  • 69% of employed and unemployed respondents agreed that working aids or aided in their treatment and recovery.

"Every year, our survey shows that cancer patients and survivors feel like work has a positive impact on their lives and recovery," says Rebecca Nellis, MPP, Executive Director, Cancer and Careers. "Our data reinforces what we've heard from working people with cancer for nearly 20 years. If an employee wants to work after a cancer diagnosis, it is essential that companies create and emphasize supportive policies to assist them. Navigating workplace challenges becomes easier when employees are equipped with the right knowledge, tools and support. Our goal is to help employers understand the challenges employees with cancer face in the workplace and how they can offer the best support, and also provide resources so that the more than 15 million survivors in the U.S. can continue to be vital and valued members of the workforce."

About the 2018 Survey
Cancer and Careers commissioned The Harris Poll to conduct a survey to better understand the experience of cancer patients and survivors within the workplace, diagnosis disclosure and its impact in the workplace, online behaviors of cancer patients and survivors, and attitudes toward health insurance and potential policy changes. A total of 882 respondents participated in the research. Respondents were 18 years of age or older, living in the U.S., diagnosed with cancer, and either currently employed (800 respondents) or unemployed but currently looking for work (82 respondents). Interviews were conducted online between September 21, 2018 - October 22, 2018. The data were weighted to targets from the Centers of Disease Control's 2016 National Health Interview Survey data for the U.S. age 18+ population who have been diagnosed with cancer and are either employed or not employed but looking for work.

About Cancer and Careers
Founded in 2001, Cancer and Careers is a national nonprofit organization that empowers and educates people with cancer to thrive in their workplaces by providing expert advice, interactive tools and educational events—all free-of-charge. Cancer and Careers' websites in English and Spanish inform more than 525,000 visitors per year. Cancer and Careers has trained more than 3,200 oncology healthcare professionals and cancer community professionals. In 2017, the organization distributed 70,000+ publications and its services were used by 94% of the top 50 cancer centers in the United States. For more information, please visit  

About The Harris Poll
The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys in the U.S. tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963 that is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times. We work with clients in three primary areas; building twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible.  To learn more, please visit

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