In the realm of healthcare expenses, cancer care costs are spiraling twice as fast as other healthcare spending.

While the direct medical costs of cancer treatment make up 12% of total expenses for employers in the US, the ripple effects of lost productivity far outweigh these figures. A staggering $264 billion in total cancer-related costs was recorded for employers in 2010, with $125 billion spent on direct medical expenses and an additional $139 billion on indirect costs.1 

With 13% of employers already experiencing late-stage cancers impacting their workforce and a further 44% predicting an increase in cancer diagnoses, the urgency to address this issue becomes ever more apparent.2 

13% of employers already experience the impact of late-stage cancers on their workforce.

Due to COVID-19, the consequences of delaying screenings, such as mammograms and prostate exams, have left countless Americans unknowingly living with cancer.

An alarming 64% of Americans deferred cancer screenings in 2021, as reported by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.3 Moreover, the prolonged treatment required for cancer adds to its substantial cost burden, with the National Cancer Institute estimating an average medical care and drug cost of around $42,000 in the year following a cancer diagnosis.4 Premature retirement and untimely deaths further compound the economic impact of this relentless disease. 

While high-deductible health plans are becoming increasingly popular among employers to control costs, their implementation in the oncology sphere requires careful evaluation. These plans could inadvertently hinder employee access to essential care, leading to avoidance or delays in seeking necessary treatments and prescriptions—particularly concerning in cancer care. 

Unfortunately, in a recent development, a vital Affordable Care Act policy that required private insurers to fully cover preventive care services, including screenings for cancer, diabetes, and depression, was struck down by a federal judge.5 This decision could impact approximately 150 million Americans who rely on employer-sponsored health coverage.5  

Without a mandate in place, some employers might be tempted to cut back on these crucial services. This would be a huge mistake, not only financially, but holistically. For many employees, a cancer diagnosis can turn life upside down in an instant. From delayed diagnoses to financial strain and limited access to specialized care, employees may face daunting obstacles. The emotional, physical, and financial toll is profound, but the support and resources provided by an employer can make all the difference. 

Beyond the immediate dollar-for-dollar impact, the cost of cancer can stream into adjacent healthcare issues.

For example, a cancer diagnosis can trigger overwhelming emotional challenges for employees and their families. A lack of mental health support in the benefits package may leave employees feeling isolated and without resources to cope with the psychological impact of cancer. 

Additionally, insufficient coverage or narrow networks may restrict employees’ access to Centers of Excellence (COEs) or renowned cancer care facilities. As a result, employees may be denied access to cutting-edge treatments and expert medical guidance, hindering their chances of better outcomes, lengthening their care, and costing more in the long term.5  

For employers, the call to address cancer within their benefits design has never been more urgent. By prioritizing employee wellness initiatives focused on cancer prevention and early detection, employers can significantly impact the physical and financial well-being of their workforce.6

Embracing cutting-edge advancements like genomics will propel cancer care into a new era, where precision and efficiency pave the way for a healthier and more productive future for all.7 

Interested in learning more about how Pack Health can support employees with a cancer diagnosis? Download our Pack Health Oncology Program Overview for a closer look at how we work.


  1. Nobel J, Sasser E, Weiss J, Pickering, L. Cancer and the workplace: the employer perspective. Northeast Business Group on Health. Published October 2015. Accessed August 28, 2023.   
  2. Gonzales M. Cancer cases on the rise: Here’s what employers should know. SHRM. July 13, 2022. Accessed August 28, 2023. 
  3. Star J, Bandi P, Siegel RL, et al. Cancer Screening in the United States During the Second Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic [published online ahead of print, 2023 Feb 23]. J Clin Oncol. 2023;JCO2202170. doi:10.1200/JCO.22.02170 <  
  4. Mariotto AB, Enewold L, Zhao J, Zeruto CA, Yabroff KR. Medical Care Costs Associated with Cancer Survivorship in the United States. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2020;29(7):1304-1312. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-1534 
  5. Stolberg SG, Abelson R. Federal judge strikes down Obamacare requirement for free preventive care. The New York Times. March 30, 2023. Accessed August 28, 2023. 
  6. Cancer Support in the Workplace | Pack Health Oncology Program. Pack Health. Accessed August 28, 2023.  
  7. The Pack Health Team. Introducing the COACH Study: Revitalizing Cancer Survivorship Support with Digital Health Coaching. March 30, 2023. Accessed August 28, 2023.

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