A new study has found high variability in the cost of parking at National Cancer Institute-designated cancer treatment centers, ranging from free to hundreds of dollars over the course of a patient’s treatment.1
Researchers based out of New York City acknowledged that “patients may face substantial nonmedical costs through parking fees, even at centers with the highest standard of care.”
To evaluate these parking fees, they searched online or placed telephone calls to find out parking costs across 63 National Cancer Institute-designated centers. Cost of living score was based off of New York City, which was given a cost score of 100.
Median cost of living score was 75 among the centers. The daily parking costs were positively associated with city cost of living, but hourly parking costs were not. Additionally, city cost of living was negatively associated with both free daily parking (P =.02), and free parking during radiation (P <.001) or chemotherapy (P =.003).
Forty percent of centers did not have detailed parking cost available online, which did not allow patients to plan for costs, the researchers wrote.
In all, the median parking costs were $2 per hour and $5 per day. About one-third (32%) of centers offered free parking; free parking was also available at 68% of centers for radiation appointments and 54% of centers for chemotherapy appointments.
“As treatment may span months and unexpected costs have been reported to be associated with decreased willingness to pay, high parking costs may be a source of financial toxicity to patients and caregivers and ultimately interfere with cancer care,” the researchers wrote.
The study found a median estimated parking cost for a course of treatment for breast cancer was $0, but ranged from $0 to $800. Similarly, the median cost for head and neck cancer was $0, but ranged from $0 to $655. For hospitalization for acute myeloid leukemia, the median parking cost was $210, ranging from $0 to $1680.
“Efforts to minimize financial toxicity may benefit from a focus on this potentially underreported patient concern,” the researchers concluded.
Lee A, Shah K, Chino F. Assessment of parking fees at National Cancer Institute-designated cancer treatment centers [published online July 16, 2020]. JAMA Oncol. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.1475