Changes in Economic Status of Households Associated with Catastrophic Health Expenditures for Cancer in South Korea


Background: Cancer imposes significant economic challenges for individuals, families, and society. Householdsof cancer patients often experience income loss due to change in job status and/or excessive medical expenses.Thus, we examined whether changes in economic status for such households is affected by catastrophic healthexpenditures. Materials and
Methods: We used the Korea Health Panel Survey (KHPS) Panel 1st-4th (2008-2011 subjects) data and extracted records from 211 out of 5,332 households in the database for this study. Toidentify factors associated with catastrophic health expenditures and, in particular, to examine the relationshipbetween change in economic status and catastrophic health expenditures, we conducted a generalized linearmodel analysis.
Results: Among 211 households with cancer patients, 84 (39.8%) experienced catastrophic healthexpenditures, while 127 (40.2%) did not show evidence of catastrophic medical costs. If a change in economicstatus results from a change in job status for head of household (job loss), these households are more likely toincur catastrophic health expenditure than households who have not experienced a change in job status (oddsratios (ORs)=2.17, 2.63, respectively). A comparison between households with a newly-diagnosed patient versushouseholds with patients having lived with cancer for one or two years, showed the longer patients had cancer,the more likely their households incurred catastrophic medical costs (OR=1.78, 1.36, respectively).
Conclusions:Change in economic status of households in which the cancer patient was the head of household was associatedwith a greater likelihood that the household would incur catastrophic health costs. It is imperative that the Koreangovernment connect health and labor policies in order to develop economic programs to assist households withcancer patients.