Why Cancer Patients and Caregivers Need Paid Leave
It is critical that cancer patients and their caregivers have access to paid time away from work when receiving treatment or caring for their loved one.
Patients with serious health care needs and their caregivers suffer in multiple ways from a lack of paid leave. Patients’ treatment may suffer, and they may suffer economically. The economic harm is immediate and may be long-lasting if they lose their jobs.
Each year, NCCS conducts the nationwide State of Cancer Survivorship Survey to better understand cancer patient and survivor attitudes, experiences, and needs. In the 2021 survey, cancer patients and survivors reported concerns about issues that could be addressed by a national paid leave policy.
Cancer patients expressed concerns about:
- loss of income,
- having the financial support they need,
- the cost of medical care, prescriptions, and treatments,
- keeping or getting disability insurance and health insurance, and
- work or employment issues, such as finding and keeping a job.
These concerns are disproportionately higher in Hispanics/Latinos, women, and young adults.
We also found that 4 in 10 survivors we surveyed had to make financial sacrifices, and 43% reported that their cancer diagnosis affected their work status, again with numbers significantly higher for women, Hispanics/Latinos, young adults, low-income survivors, people currently in treatment, and people with metastatic cancer.
Nearly 10% of respondents quit their jobs, with numbers as high as 21% for some subgroups. Paid leave would help many of these patients keep their jobs.