McKesson National Survey Reveals Most Americans Are Optimistic About New Technologies in Healthcare, yet Worry About Cancer Cost

September 25, 2018

Six in ten Americans worry they cannot afford cancer treatment; most would trust genetic testing to identify risk for cancer; men are more likely than women to turn to artificial intelligence for a diagnosis

San Francisco, September 25, 2018— McKesson Corporation today announced the findings of a nationwide cancer care survey conducted in partnership with Ipsos. Survey results, which include insights from more than 2,000 participants across the U.S., reveal general attitudes toward cancer care as well as perspectives on the future of developing care.

In Technology We Trust

Survey results indicate that most Americans are open to genetic testing to assess their risk for developing cancer (60 percent). For those who remain uncertain, the most-cited reasons are not wanting to know their risk or not knowing enough about genetic testing to make a decision.

Additionally, 44 percent of Americans would trust artificial intelligence (AI) for cancer diagnosis or a treatment recommendation. However, women are less likely (36 percent) than men (52 percent) to put their faith in AI.

Financial-Related Concerns Top Worry List

There is a common frustration and concern over the cost of cancer treatment:

  • Three-quarters of those who responded say that a diagnosis would have a catastrophic impact on their finances;
  • 62 percent say they are concerned about their ability to afford treatment, if diagnosed; and
  • More than 60 percent of Generation Zers (ages 18-24) would forgo treatment because of the cost factor compared to 50 percent of Millennials (ages 25-37) and 21 percent of those 65 and older.

Cancer Treatment Preferences: Men versus Women

There are several notable differences between men and women when deciding where to undergo treatment, if diagnosed:

  • When selecting a cancer provider or treatment facility, women are more cost-conscious compared to men.
  • 56 percent of women feel it’s important to be close to home, whereas less than half of men feel the same.
  • A recommended facility or physician is slightly more important to women (42 percent versus 38 percent) as is the opportunity for personal interaction with staff and the support of providers (78 percent versus 70 percent).

Insurance Coverage Falls Short

Most Americans realize that their health insurance is insufficient to cover the full costs of cancer treatment. Only 13 percent believe insurance would pay for the entire cost of cancer treatment if diagnosed, while 42 percent believe it would pay for only a fraction of their treatment. Seven percent have no health insurance.

Additional survey findings include:

  • When it comes to seeking cancer treatment, the top factors are cost and insurance coverage (77 percent); access to latest technologies and clinical trials (75 percent); support of staff and providers (74 percent); brand name facility (60 percent); and proximity to home (53 percent).
  • 70% of Americans would forgo cancer treatment for various reasons including cost, belief that treatment won’t help, fear of treatment, and lack of access to care.
  • Despite estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) that predict nearly 10 million people will die of cancer this year and more than 18 million new cases will be diagnosed around the worldi, Americans are positive about the future: 76 percent say in the past decade there has been good progress towards a cure, while nearly two-thirds feel that a cure is likely within 50 years.
  • In addition, nearly half of Americans are not concerned about being diagnosed with cancer and almost three-quarters are confident that if diagnosed, they would be able to receive high-quality care.

“It’s exciting to see that as genomic medicine is becoming more accessible and affordable, people are willing to embrace DNA testing to learn their potential genetic predispositions,” said Michael Seiden, MD, PhD, president of The US Oncology Network, America’s largest network of independent, community-based oncology practices, supported by McKesson. “We are also seeing major scientific learnings and technological advances in biology, chemistry and immunology that are being integrated into new therapies for cutting-edge clinical trials within US Oncology Research. Addressing the significant financial burden cancer care places on individuals and their families will require ongoing research and innovative strategies. We must continue our efforts to ensure broad access to therapies that improve patient outcomes, hopefully bringing us one step closer to the cure that most Americans believe is within reach.”

About the Study

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted August 20-22, 2018, on behalf of McKesson Corporation. For the survey, a sample of 2,012 adults 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii were interviewed online in English.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (click here for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources and “river” sampling (click here for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method), and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2013 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region and education.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=2,009, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-4 percentage points).

About McKesson Corporation

McKesson Corporation, currently ranked 6th on the FORTUNE 500, is a global leader in healthcare supply chain management solutions, retail pharmacy, community oncology and specialty care, and healthcare information technology. McKesson partners with pharmaceutical manufacturers, providers, pharmacies, governments and other organizations in healthcare to help provide the right medicines, medical products and healthcare services to the right patients at the right time, safely and cost-effectively. United by our ICARE shared principles, our employees work every day to innovate and deliver opportunities that make our customers and partners more successful — all for the better health of patients. McKesson has been named the “Most Admired Company” in the healthcare wholesaler category by FORTUNE, a “Best Place to Work” by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and a top military-friendly company by Military Friendly. For more information, visit

iEstimates according to data from WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)

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