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:

Ensuring access to evidenced-based cancer screenings and quality treatment is critical to the fight against colorectal cancer. 

ACS CAN filed comments in response to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation's (CMMI's) request for information on specialty practitioner payment model opportunities.  ACS CAN's comments urged CMMI to pay particular attention to the impact various payment policies would have on a beneficiary's access to care.

In a letter to CMS Administrator Tavenner, ACS CAN joined other organizations urging CMS to reqire Medicare Advantage plans to provide coverage for clinical trials.

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.

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.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is an independent panel of experts charged with reviewing the scientific evidence for clinical preventive services and developing evidence-based recommendations about their delivery.

Approximately 160 provisions in the final health care legislation will directly impact the millions of Americans who have or will face cancer. The following is a list of the most important provisions for the cancer community:

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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Prescription Drug Affordability Resources:

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

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.  

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).

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are entities that administer prescription drug programs for many private, public, and employer health insurance plans. PBMs establish pharmacy networks, negotiate prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers on behalf of their clients, and provide basic claims administration.

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.

Prescription drugs are often less expensive in other countries. This is due to a variety of factors. There have been efforts at the state and federal level to allow individuals to purchase lower cost prescription drugs from other countries and import these products into the United States for personal use.

New breakthroughs in cancer research are making more life-saving drug therapies available. Keeping these therapies affordable for patients is imperative. Prohibitive cost sharing for prescription drugs can cause patients to skip dosages, split pills or stop taking their medications entirely, which reduces the effectiveness of their treatment.

Currently, Medicare part D is administered entirely by private plans that follow guidelines set by CMS. Policymakers propose allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to enter negotiations between pharmaceutical manufacturers and Part D plans in an attempt to lower prescription drug prices.

Most health insurance plans that cover prescription drugs use formularies to categorize the drugs the plan will cover and determine the amount of patient cost sharing. Divided into “tiers”, the higher the tier, the higher the share of cost for patients.

Private Health Insurance Resources:

ACS CAN provided comments on CMS' Draft 2016 Letter to Issuers in the Federally-facilitated Marketplaces, including comments related to network adequacy, provider directories, nondiscrimination provisions, and other issues.

ACS CAN filed comments on the 2016 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters proposed rule, including comments related to Special Enrollment Periods, prescription drug benefits, nondiscrimination, cost-sharing requirements, network adequacy standards, and other issues.

As the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) updated its Managed care Plan Network Adequacy Model Act (Network Adequacy Model Act), ACS CAN filed comments urging the NAIC to adopt policies that would ensure that health plan networks are sufficient to provide enrollees with access to a sufficient number and type of providers (including oncology services) to meet the needs of the enrollees.

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.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded access to health insurance through reforms of the private health insurance market, including income-related premium support and cost-sharing subsidies and establishment of Health Insurance Marketplaces.

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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Medicare Resources:

ACS CAN provided comments on CMS' initiation of a national coverage analysis for cervical cancer screening with a combination of HPV and cytology (Pap) testing.

ACS CAN commented on the Medicare CY2015 Physician Fee Schedule, in which we urged, among other things for CMS to designate screeming colonoscopioes that resule in polyp removal or biopsy as a preventive service.  We also commented on the proposed provisions related to the Chronic Care Management code.

ACS CAN commented in the FY2015 Medicare Hospice payment rule.

ACS CAN commented in the FY2015 Medicare Hospice payment rule, in which we urged, among other things, for Medicare to develop a workable solution to better clarify when a prescription drug is covered under the Hospice or Part D benefit.

ACS CAN filed comments in response to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation's (CMMI's) request for information on specialty practitioner payment model opportunities.  ACS CAN's comments urged CMMI to pay particular attention to the impact various payment policies would have on a beneficiary's access to care.

In a letter to CMS Administrator Tavenner, ACS CAN joined other organizations urging CMS to reqire Medicare Advantage plans to provide coverage for clinical trials.

ACS CAN filed extensive comments in response to CMS' proposed rule implementing changes to the Medicare Part C and D programs, including opposing proposed changes to the Part D six protected classes.

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.

Approximately 160 provisions in the final health care legislation will directly impact the millions of Americans who have or will face cancer. The following is a list of the most important provisions for the cancer community:

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Costs and Barriers to Care Resources:

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.

Consumers need access to health insurance policies that cover a full range of evidence-based health care services – including prevention and primary care – necessary to maintain health, avoid disease, overcome acute illness and live with chronic disease.  Any health care system that works for cancer patients must have standards ensuring that enrollees have access to comprehensive health insurance.

Current federal requirements prohibit most insurance plans from limiting both the lifetime and annual dollar value of benefits.  This ban is one of several important patient protections that must be part of any health care system that works for cancer patients.

 

 

Current federal requirements provide crucial protections that ensure health insurance coverage is comprehensive, not arbitrarily limited, available to all and more affordable.  These protections are especially important for cancer patients, survivors, and those at risk for cancer.  This fact sheet contains a list of the most important provisions in current law for the cancer community.

Resources and information from the American Cancer Society about understanding health insurance, particularly for cancer patients and survivors.

The American Cancer Society operates a call center available to all cancer patients and their families, that includes resources and specialists who can help patients with questions about health insurance, enrolling in a plan, and issues accessing care.

ACS CAN comments on 2015 Edition EHR Standards and Certification Criteria Proposed Rule

ACS CAN comments on Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Electronic Health Record Incentive Program – Stage 3 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

ACS CAN Comments on ASCO's Proposed Value Framework