Access to Health Care

ACS CAN advocates for policies that provide access to treatments and services people with cancer need for their care - including those who may be newly diagnosed, in active treatment and cancer survivors.

Access to Health Care Resources:

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped individuals with pre-existing conditions like cancer access comprehensive health insurance and afford their care. But the law is at risk of being dismantled.

ACS CAN responded to the reopening of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) coverage decision for NGS testing panels.

ACS CAN is concerned that over the past year, policymakers and the administration have taken several legislative and regulatory actions that could make it harder for individuals with pre-existing conditions to obtain health insurance coverage that is adequate, affordable, and available, thereby jeopardizing access to life-sustaining care.

ACS CAN submitted comments regarding Alabama's proposed plan year 2020 Essential Health Benefit Benchmark Revisions.

ACS CAN submitted comments regarding New Jersey's request for a 1332 waiver to create a reinsurance program.

ACS CAN comments to Steven Mnuchin and Seema Verma on Iowa's 1332 Waiver

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are an integral part of the health care safety-net, providing access to affordable primary care services for nearly 26 million uninsured or underinsured Americans many of whom have cancer. The centers are non-profit, community-directed, and serve high need rural and urban communities that face obstacles to health care, including cost and lack of insurance, as well as geographic and language barriers. FQHCs provide access to quality preventive and primary care services that are critical for cancer patients, survivors, and those who will be diagnosed with cancer.

This ACS CAN report focuses specifically on the costs of cancer borne by patients in active treatment as well as survivors.  It examines the factors contributing to the cost of cancer care, the type of direct costs patients pay, and the indirect costs associated with cancer.

ACS CAN filed extensive comments expressing deep concern with the proposed Medicare Part B Drug Payment Model and noting that in its proposed form the Part B Drug Model Model failed to protect cancer patients' access to life-saving medications.

Private Health Insurance Resources:

For persons living with cancer, access to specialty practitioners is paramount. Millions of Americans are now choosing health coverage through the new insurance Marketplaces and these enrollees need to be able to easily determine whether specific physicians are in a plan’s network.

This analysis examines two issues of particular interest to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and its members: the extent of coverage and cost-sharing for cancer drugs, and whether information on the coverage of cancer drugs can be readily obtained, compared, and understood by patients.

Utilization management is a collection of treatment review and cost reduction techniques used by health insurers and health plans. Health plans frequently employ utilization management techniques in their prescription drug benefit, particularly for high-cost specialty medications.

This report highlights the severe challenges cancer patient may face in paying for life-saving care even when they have private health insurance.

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Reducing Health Disparities Resources:

In response to a request from FDA, ACS CAN has provided recommendations for areas of focus for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE).  Recommendations include assessing the applicability of drug "snapshot" data, evaluating the appropriateness of aggregating racial groups for ana

Despite the fact that US cancer death rates have decreased by 26 percent from 1991 to 2015, not all Americans have benefited equally from the advances in prevention, early detection, and treatments that have helped achieve these lower rates.

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Costs and Barriers to Care Resources:

Short-term limited duration (STLD) insurance plans do not provide the kind of comprehensive insurance coverage cancer patients need.  These plans were designed only as temporary coverage and are not subject to the same Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements as other health insurance products on the market.  As a result, an enrollee who was attracted to the plan’s lower premiums may find – if they are diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer – that the plan does not cover all of their necessary cancer treatments.  In these cases, the consumer can be left with catastrophic costs.

Many patients with complex diseases like cancer find it difficult to afford their treatments – even when they have health insurance.  Current law establishes a limit on what most private insurance plans can require enrollees to pay in out-of-pocket costs.  These limits protect patients from extremely high costs and are essential to any health care system that works for cancer patients and survivors.

 

A majority of cancer patients and survivors struggle to afford cancer care and over 80% have had to make financial sacrifices to cover their health care expenses. This survey also reveals ways that affordability concerns can negatively impact care and treatment, and explores issues related to prescription drug coverage and pain management options.

In these comments, ACS CAN strongly supports Congress’ and the Administration’s efforts to protect patients from surprise medical bills and we are encouraged by the important steps this interim final rule takes. Specifically, we applaud the Departments’ proposed policies related to:

High deductible health plans (HDHPs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) are becoming more common in employer-sponsored insurance and the individual and small group markets.  These types of plans have risks and features must be implemented carefully so they do not harm cancer patients, survivors or those at risk for cancer.

Cancer patients are particularly vulnerable to spikes in their health care costs because many expensive diagnostic tests and treatments are scheduled within a short period of time, so cancer patients spend their deductible and out-of-pocket maximum quickly. These costs can be difficult to manage over the course of a year, and most monthly budgets simply can’t afford these large bills. 

Most patients experience spikes in their health care costs around the time of a cancer diagnosis as they pay their deductible and out-of-pocket maximum. For patients on high deductible plans, this spike can mean bills due for several thousands of dollars within one month.

The U.S. spent approximately $183 billion on cancer-related health care in 2015. This represents a signification portion of the total health care spending in the U.S. And it is expected to keep growing. By 2030 cancer-related health care spending is expected to reach nearly $246 billion.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped individuals with pre-existing conditions like cancer access comprehensive health insurance and afford their care. But the law is at risk of being dismantled.

Medicaid Resources:

An increasing number of states are seeking greater flexibility in administering their Medicaid programs. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) give states the opportunity to test innovative or alternative approaches to providing health care coverage to their Medicaid populations through Section 1115 Research and Demonstration Waivers (otherwise known as "1115 waivers"). States must demonstrate that their waivers promote the objectives of the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) and CMS must use general criteria to determine whether the objectives of the Medicaid/CHIP programs are met.

 

Medicaid is the primary health insurance program for low-income Americans, offering quality, affordable, and comprehensive health care coverage to millions of people including those with cancer, those who will be diagnosed with cancer, and cancer survivors. Having health insurance through Medicaid helps Americans stay healthy, go to work, care for their families and pay their bills. The Medicaid program also helps communities, hospitals, schools, and economy thrive.

ACS CAN comments on Tennessee's 1115 Demonstration Waiver.

ACS CAN comments on Utah's 1115 Demonstration Waiver.

ACS CAN Comments on Idaho's 1115 Demonstration Waiver.

ACS CAN Comments on Montana's 1115 Demonstration Waiver.

ACS CAN Comments on Utah's 1115 Demonstration Waiver

ACS CAN CMS Comments on New Mexico's 1115 Demonstration Waiver

ACS CAN CMS Comments on South Carolina's 1115 Demonstration Waiver