Breast cancer still carries too high a cost for patients when one in nine women in Belgium will face the disease before reaching 75, according to a study by health insurer Solidaris on Monday. Belgium has the highest rate of breast cancer in the world.
The study looked into the health costs of 2,629 of its members who have received treatment for breast cancer since 2014 before surveying 300 women who currently have or have had breast cancer, Belga News Agency reports.
The results show that total healthcare costs for patients now reach almost €2,000 in the first year of the illness, "almost four times what they were last year" Solidaris stated in a press release. In 5% of cases, this rises to €6,750.
"Without our social security system and health insurance, patient charges could be anywhere between €19,000 and €54,000," the press release adds.
These costs arise from various treatments that are not repaid to those without health insurance. "One in four women have difficulty in paying the bills associated with breast cancer."
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There is a 'Cancer Plan', the insurer states, but this dates from 2008 and is oriented more towards "prevention and testing, rehabilitation, or even research and development of treatments."
Solidaris proposes four recommendations to prevent patients from being unable to meet the costs of the illness: information campaigns to raise general awareness about breast cancer; accompanying women through treatment; additional financial aid to avoid payment difficulties; and assisting rehabilitation in the workplace.