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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.

Prescription Drug Affordability Resources:

Patient Assistance Programs

Prescription drug costs are a significant burden on cancer patients and survivors, sometimes even leading patients to miss or delay taking prescribed medications. The latest Survivor Views survey explores the role copay assistance programs can play in reducing this burden, and also addresses patient navigation and digital therapeutics.

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.

Many cancer patients take multiple drugs as part of their treatment – often for many months or years. While drugs are not the only costly part of cancer treatment, finding ways to reduce these costs for patients and payers will significantly reduce the overall cost burden of cancer.

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:

In 2015, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) analyzed coverage of cancer drugs in the health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and found that transparency of coverage and cost-sharing requirements were insufficient to allow cancer patients to choose the best plan for their needs.

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 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:

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.

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.

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 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.

Medicaid Resources:

What does unwinding continuous coverage have to do with Medicaid expansion?

  • During the pandemic, Congress put in place continuous coverage protections to ensure that Medicaid enrollees were able to keep their health coverage without needing to re-enroll.

What does unwinding continuous coverage have to do with Medicaid expansion?

  • During the pandemic, Congress put in place continuous coverage protections to ensure that Medicaid enrollees were able to keep their health coverage without needing to re-enroll.

What does unwinding continuous coverage have to do with Medicaid expansion?

  • During the pandemic, Congress put in place continuous coverage protections to ensure that Medicaid enrollees were able to keep their health coverage without needing to re-enroll.

What does unwinding continuous coverage have to do with Medicaid expansion?

  • During the pandemic, Congress put in place continuous coverage protections to ensure that Medicaid enrollees were able to keep their health coverage without needing to re-enroll.

What does unwinding continuous coverage have to do with Medicaid expansion?

  • During the pandemic, Congress put in place continuous coverage protections to ensure that Medicaid enrollees were able to keep their health coverage without needing to re-enroll.

What does unwinding continuous coverage have to do with Medicaid expansion?

  • During the pandemic, Congress put in place continuous coverage protections to ensure that Medicaid enrollees were able to keep their health coverage without needing to re-enroll.

What does unwinding continuous coverage have to do with Medicaid expansion?

  • During the pandemic, Congress put in place continuous coverage protections to ensure that Medicaid enrollees were able to keep their health coverage without needing to re-enroll.

What does unwinding continuous coverage have to do with Medicaid expansion?

  • During the pandemic, Congress put in place continuous coverage protections to ensure that Medicaid enrollees were able to keep their health coverage without needing to re-enroll.

ACS CAN strongly opposes any attempt by the federal government or states to condition Medicaid coverage on work or community engagement.