Research Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the insurance, employment, and financial experiences of young (age ≤ 39 years) female breast cancer patients and assess factors associated with any changes in their financial situation. Previous literature has shown that younger women are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage disease that requires more-intensive treatments, while significant medical expenditures, productivity losses, financial hardship, and changes in employment and work productivity have been found in patients of all ages. Methods: A sample of women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between the ages of 18 and 39 years and residing in the states of California, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina were identified. The sample included women who were (1) diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (D05.90; 8500/2) or invasive breast cancer (C50; 8500/3) between January 2013 and December 2014; (2) between the ages of 18 and 39 years at the time of diagnosis; and (3) alive at the time of data extraction. We contacted 3,659 women by mail; 2,927 were alive with deliverable addresses. Of those, 830 women returned completed surveys, yielding a response rate of 28.4%. The survey instrument included 66 questions on demographics, insurance status, employment history, out-of-pocket cost, and overall financial well-being. Multivariate analysis was used to identify factors associated with financial decline. Principal Findings: About half of the women (47.4%) reported that treatment expenditures were higher than anticipated, and almost two-thirds (65.3%) had not discussed treatment costs with their care team. Almost a third of the patients (31.8%) reported treatment nonadherence due to cost. Factors associated with not receiving recommended care included very young age (<35 years) at diagnosis, self-insurance, the presence of comorbid conditions, and a late-stage diagnosis. Conclusions: Young female breast cancer patients experienced considerable financial burden regardless of insurance coverage. Most respondents made employment decisions that would allow them to keep their health insurance coverage. Knowledge about the financial consequences of breast cancer can help patients factor cost and employment into treatment decisions. Implications for Policy or Practice: This study highlights the burdens that many young women with breast cancer face, regardless of employment or insurance status, raising the possibility of target policy intervention. The strengths of this study include a unique focus on young breast cancer patients, identification of patients from population-based cancer registries, and the utilization of multifaceted insurance/financial indicators.
Citation Format: Florence Tangka, Sujha Subramanian, Madeleine Jones, Patrick Edwards, Tim Flanigan, Jenya Kaganova, Kevin Smith, Cheryll Thomas, Nikki Hawkins, Temeika Fairley, Gery Guy, Juan Rodriguez. Insurance coverage, employment status, and financial wellbeing of young women diagnosed with breast cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 2020 San Antonio Breast Cancer Virtual Symposium; 2020 Dec 8-11; San Antonio, TX. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2021;81(4 Suppl):Abstract nr PS7-45.