How much does radiation (for breast cancer) cost?

My radiation oncology bills are starting to pour in, so it’s time for another personal finance post. To date, I’ve received bills for 11 out of 28 treatments. Here are the #s:

  • $26,903 – the grand total my rads. onc. office billed
  • $13,756 – the amount that insurance paid
  • $13,146 – the amount my rads. onc. office wrote-off
  • $0 – my out of pocket costs, because I hit my out-of-pocket max and deductible eons ago.

Of the $26K, $493 was for the initial consultation, $15K was for the treatment setup and design, and $10,826 was the cost for 11 treatments. That’s an average of $984 per treatment, with insurance paying out a fair percentage – an average of $716 per treatment. No wonder they call me when I’m running late to see if I’m coming! (Yes, I know, I’m being cynical. They don’t want me just for my ins. money, I know, I know, they’re there to help.) When all is said and done I predict the total amount billed for my post-mastectomy radiation will be $43.6K with $25.9K paid out and the remainder written-off.

My take home point – with that kind of price tag I’ll be damned if I’m going to feel in the least bit guilty for asking questions and pushing the docs to do stuff so that I can feel better. I get all my cancer treatment at the same practice, and by the time rads is done that treatment will have brought them $60K (including $34.1 K for chemo). And that’s not including my most recent onc. checkup and labs, or a gyn. oncology visit I had with them to screen for ovarian cancer. (I’m happy to report that that coast is completely clear! Knock on wood.)

My other take home point – I’m so incredibly grateful that:

  • my insurance rocks (and that thanks is also due to my SIL and our work insurance broker, Montgomery & Graham – Tina and Jim, you are the best!!)
  • the lion’s share of my cancer treatment took place in the same calendar year. If treatment had started in Sept. instead of May, I’d be paying two calendar years worth of deductibles and copays back-to-back. As things are, I hope to push off reaching my cap until mid next year. Ah well, dream on, right? But I can try.
  • I hit my cap early in the year and that I don’t have to pay copays for each rads visit. For the women who do have high copays, that could run $150/week. Yikes.

13 Comments

Filed under breast cancer, costs, radiation

13 responses to “How much does radiation (for breast cancer) cost?

  1. Bill Van Deursen

    Hi,
    First of all, I want you to know that you ladies have my highest respect for dealing with this terrible disease and still continuing to live and
    do amazing things. You all rate a Medal of Honor! Also wanted to see what the usual cost of breast cancer treatment would run.
    Looks like you(your insurance) got off a lot less than our current bill. My wife had 10 treatments in 1 week (radium) ..the insurance got charged $23,000 per day. total bill $132,000!
    With all due respect to the people who provide the treatment..somehow that does not seem right. Am just glad my company pays the premium. Thanks
    Bill

    • island girl

      Hiii to you Bill and please tell your wife to be strong and to never give up..for me my treatments cost alot to and yes its true its crazy how much all this can cost radiation and chemo for me cost about 255,000/ 8 months. I wish that it was cheaper then what it is but when one wants to live cost seem the least of the worries right..well i dont know if this helps you but good luck to your wife and to you be strong for each other and god bless you too…much love to you two…Island girl

    • Evett

      Bill:
      Best of luck to you and your wife. I apparently am closer to your figures in my cost for radiation. so far my previous total rung in at $95,000! I was so thankful for over a year and a half I had insurance. Now I do not and I have relapsed. I have sold my home, many of my belongings, and moved in with family in preparation for what lies ahead. After seeing the last bills I have no doubt I will spend what life I have left paying to stay alive. In the big picture of things the costs really doesnt matter….I have a teenage I want to hang around and see graduate. Best of luck again to you and your family. God Bless to all fighting this disease!
      E

  2. Brenda

    Anyone know the estimated costs of Brachytherapy. My doctor says I’m a good candidate for that instead of traditional breast radiation. I had a lumpectomy this week.

    • island girl

      sorry Brenda i dont know, but what is Brachytherapy? ive had radition and it seems to work for me but each person is different again so good luck to you sorry i couldnt help you more…god bless you…Island girl

  3. Hi Bill – For that much $ the rads better darn well have worked, right?! Hope your wife recovers well (and you too, it can be hard for the spouse too….)

    Brenda – I don’t know the costs of brachytherapy. Is that the 5 day treatment? I’d think that’d be less than the 6 week treatment, but given Bill’s example of the cost for a 1 week treatment, it seems like it depends on the treatment. Pls let us know how it turns out if you have a minute down the road.
    Best wishes on it all!
    - Amya

    • Pam

      My physician says brachytherapy (5 day radiation therapy) costs $16,000 — and that Blue Cross covers it in 48 states. Unfortunately, I live in one of the other states…

  4. LaTosha

    i have to do a project for english on this and i cannot find enough infomation on the cost

  5. susan

    Does anyone know how much radiation (one breast only) cost? I have read some other totals and the billing department is claiming that the treatment only cost $233.00 per treatment??? Does that sound right to anyone?

    • Evett

      Absolutely NOT!! I have only received treatment to one breast and my total for radiation has rung in just under $95,000. Apparently it isnt more expensive to do both by much its a matter of how many rads are used. All I know is that this bill did not include my Chemo, my doctor visits OR my perscriptions, & therapy. Thank God above I had insurance because my doctor looked me straight in the face and told me a well to do family would not be able to handle my bills. After the bills started coming in I understood what he meant. Unfortunately for me I have relapsed and these costs are coming a second time around.

  6. island girl

    I just wanted to say that you all are very strong for doing this.Radiation cost depends how many times you go and as far as chemotheraph cost again depands how many times you have the treatment. For me, so far i have paid about 4500.00. the inc covered a lot of my bills i went alot to my radiation n chemo treatments and i thank god for the cancer clinic and for the inc company. Next year i dont have to pay for any of my treatments. The clinic is covering my cost and the inc company the rest. I am very lucky that way..thank you god for that atleast…The pain on the other hand if anyone can make that go away that would be great. I guess we cant ask for to much now. I know Iam very greatful for the help i got and that I am still getting from everyone involved so thank you from the bottom of my heart, just wish that the treatments wouldn’t be so costly…LOVE TO ALL THAT ARE GOING THROUGH THIS ORDEAL…Island girl…

  7. A. Ellis

    Brenda, I live in Dallas, Texas. I had the five day twice a day brachytherapy for one breast. Cost of these procedures came to a total of about $33,000.00. I am on insurance contract price so not sure what was paid to doctor. Hope you are doing well. So far so good for me. It’s been a year since my lumpectomy. Did not have to have chemo thank God.

  8. Nancy

    Thanks to all of you who posted this info. Everything ‘official’ wont even give estimates. Haven’t started my raditation yet, surgery is this week. I know I’ll have to pay a ton no matter what but I would like to get a jump on putting money into my HSA so would need some kind of estimate on costs. Unfortunately I’m in a very high deductable plan so we’ll be paying about $12,000 before we hit our out of pocket maximum.

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