Cervical cancer, or any cancer for that matter, can be expensive to treat and manage. In a literature review conducted by the Canadian Cancer Society in 2010, findings found that most of the costs incurred by patients and their families were traced back to travelling expenses, out-of-pocket costs, and cancer drugs and prescription medicines.
The Canada Health Act says all Canadians ‘have access to the insured health services including all medically necessary hospital services, inpatient pharmaceuticals (medicines used while you are hospitalized), and medically required physician services .’ This means that medicines not used in-hospital (outpatients) are not always paid for, such as medicines that are taken orally by the patient at home .
This is meant to provide cervical cancer patients and their families with information on the programs and services available to help them finance the cancer treatment and the costs incurred.
Mind the gaps: Expectations vs. realities for many cancer patients
Many Canadians expect their cancer system to work for them may significantly differ from the reality they may encounter. Depending upon the province, patients may be surprised to encounter five gaping holes in their provincial cancer systems:
- Completely different provincial systems for IV and oral (or other take-home medications)
- Widely different timelines and waiting periods to commence IV and oral cancer medications
- Outdated paper-based systems in some provinces that, in 2014, still rely on hand-written prescriptions, mail and fax machines
- Lack of ability to track and report on usage, effectiveness and side effects of all cancer drugs
- Different levels of care: that not all cancer drugs are dispensed to patients by oncology-trained professionals
Four provinces—Alberta, Nova Scotia, BC and PEI—currently offer the HPV vaccine to boys. While the associated cost with HPV vaccines varies across the provinces, individual who is not eligible can expect to pay as much as $200 for an injection of Gardasil 9 . As an example, the Peel Public Health Unit of Ontario states individuals who are not eligible for the vaccine or want to access the vaccine through their family physicians will not have the cost of the vaccine covered by OHIP, only the injection fee. Ontario’s HPV vaccination program, which uses Gardasil 4, has its cost estimated to be $150 per dose and $450 for all three doses in the Peel region . Individuals, who are not eligible for the HPV vaccine, including boys and young men, are now on the hook for the costs of the vaccines. While some private insurance companies may cover the cost, the current coverage system creates an unequal gap for those who cannot afford the vaccine.