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 American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the 2021 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters proposed rule. ACS CAN is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state, and local levels.

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.

Where healthcare dollars are spent compared with dollars on cancer care, 2015.

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 is very concerned about proposed policy changes that would move coverage of cancer and supportive care drugs from Part B to Part D. Proposed policy changes could jeopardize patient access to drugs, create potential safety issues, and increase out-of-pocket costs for patients who already struggle to afford cancer treatment under the current Medicare program.

In 2003, Congress passed the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), which created an outpatient prescription drug benefit in the Medicare program. Known as Part D, the prescription benefit is operated exclusively through private insurance plans that contract with Medicare. To ensure that beneficiaries have coverage for the drugs they need Part D plans are required to cover at least two drugs in each therapeutic class. A therapeutic class is a group of medications that are used to treat the same condition. 

ACS CAN submitted comments regarding the CMS Innovation Center's request for information on a new direction.

Prescription Drug Affordability Resources:

Many cancer patients have difficulty affording the cost of their prescription drugs, regardless of whether they are insured.  This is especially true for newer drugs that do not have a generic equivalent.  Many programs exist to help patients afford their medication.  This fact sheet focuses on two of these – patient assistance programs and discount coupons.  

ACS CAN joined organizations representing cancer patients, survivors, providers, and caregivers urging the administration to address barriers to access to care and coverage during the public health crisis

ACS CAN joined 50 groups representing, cancer patients, survivors, doctors, nurses, cancer centers, pharmacists and researchers urging Congress to address barriers to patient access to care and coverage.

The Medicare Access for Patients Rx (MAPRx) Coalition raises concerns about proposed changes to the Medicare prescription drug benefit and Medicare Advantage plans

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the 2021 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters proposed rule. ACS CAN is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state, and local levels.

ACS CAN supports legislative and regulatory policies at the state and federal level that prohibit patients from being surprise billed for unexpected out-of-network care.

ACS CAN comments to Secretary Alex Azar on Drug Rebate Proposed Rule

Biological drugs, commonly referred to as biologics, are a class of drugs that are produced using a living system, such as a microorganism, plant cell, or animal cell. Like all drugs, biologics are regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For an individual with specific health care needs – like cancer patients and survivors – the drugs covered by a health plan and corresponding cost sharing for each drug is important information when choosing health insurance. However, to make an informed choice, formulary information must be disclosed to the individual.

Private Health Insurance Resources:

It is critically important for cancer patients to be able to access clear, consistent, and comparable information on prescription drug coverage, including coverage of physician-administered drugs, in order to choose a health plan. Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), such information was not widely available, but various ACA provisions aim to improve the comprehensiveness, comparability, and transparency of health plan benefits.

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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Costs and Barriers to Care Resources:

ACS CAN supports legislative and regulatory policies at the state and federal level that prohibit patients from being surprise billed for unexpected out-of-network care.

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.

 

This report explores the experiences of cancer patients with their health insurance and financial challenges through interviews with hospital-based financial navigators. The report finds that while the Affordable Care Act has brought crucial improvements to patient access to health insurance, cancer patients still face serious challenges affording their care and using their insurance benefits.

As Congress debates enacting changes to the health care market, one concept re-emerging is state high-risk pools to provide health insurance coverage for individuals who otherwise cannot obtain or afford coverage. High risk pools are not a new concept. Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) many states operated some form of high risk pool. During implementation of the ACA, a federal high risk pool was established as an interim step to the new marketplaces. The overall success of high risk pools varied. This fact sheet examines how state risk pools work and the impact on persons with cancer and cancer survivors.

Current federal requirements prohibit health insurance plans from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions like cancer.  These are one of several important patient protections that must be part of any health care system that works for cancer patients.

Current federal law has several provisions that help prevent individuals and families from experiencing gaps in their health insurance coverage.  Coverage gaps can delay necessary care, which is particularly detrimental to cancer patients and survivors.  Preventing gaps in coverage is a crucial patient protection that must be maintained in our health care and insurance system.

Current federal law provides life-saving coverage of cancer prevention and early detection services and programs.  These provisions are crucial to reducing the incidence and impact of cancer in the United States.  They are also crucial in helping cancer survivors remain cancer-free and lead healthy lives.

The Medicare program covers 55.3 million people, including 46.3 million who qualify due to age and 9 million people who qualify on the basis of a disability.  Medicare beneficiaries - including many cancer patients and survivors - have access to an outpatient prescription drug benefit that provides them with prescription drugs needed to treat their disease or condition.  This benefit – and keeping it affordable – are crucial to any health care system that works for cancer patients and survivors.

The health care law has several provisions that help prevent individuals from experiencing gaps in health insurance coverage, including the requirement that private health insurance plans allow dependents to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26.  This provision is important for keeping survivors of childhood and young adult cancer insured, and helps to ensure young adults receive preventive services and screenings.  This provision is a crucial patient protection that must be a part of a health care system that works for cancer patients and survivors.