One Year Later, Provisions in Affordable Care Act Are Helping Cancer Patients and Their Families

March 22, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 22, 2011 – One year after the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, went into effect, key provisions are improving the health care system for those with cancer or who are at risk for developing the disease. Cancer patients and their families are benefitting from provisions in the law that are improving the quality and cost of their health care.

“We want people to understand that the law, while not perfect, will meaningfully improve the health care system for people with cancer and save lives,” said John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “Provisions in the law are making health care more adequate, affordable, available and easier to understand for cancer patients, survivors and their families.”

Several critical patient protections included in the law improve the health care system for cancer patients and their families by:

• Banning pre-existing condition exclusions,
• Eliminating annual and lifetime benefit limits,
• Guaranteeing health coverage to all applicants,
• Prohibiting insurers from charging people more for coverage because of their health status, and
• Refocusing the health care system on disease prevention and early detection.

ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, has been working at the federal and state level to insure that provisions of the law that help cancer patients are protected and implemented effectively. As part of that effort, ACS CAN this month released a guide to help evaluate various state health benefit exchange proposals. If implemented correctly, state exchanges will create an online marketplace where consumers can shop for affordable, adequate coverage options and select among plans that cannot discriminate based on one’s health history. 

“Many cancer patients, survivors and their families are benefitting from critical patient protections in the law and can’t afford to have them taken away,” said Christopher W. Hansen, president of ACS CAN.  “We call on lawmakers to implement and strengthen provisions that are expanding access to quality health care for families affected by cancer, so they aren’t ever again forced to make the difficult choice between saving their life and their life savings.”

Since the passage of the law, ACS CAN and the American Cancer Society have been educating the public about those provisions that directly benefit cancer patients and their families.  As part of this effort, the Society developed a consumer-friendly brochure: The Affordable Care Act: How it Helps People With Cancer and Their Families. The guide outlines how the new patient protections improve the quality and cost of health care for people with cancer and those at risk for cancer. It also clarifies some of the misunderstandings that still exist about the law. In addition, the guide highlights three real-world stories of people who exemplify how the law is meaningfully improving the health care system. 

The guide is posted on both the Society’s and ACS CAN’s Web sites. Visit to access it.

ACS CAN is also part of a coalition of some of the nation's most trusted organizations representing consumers, patients, physicians, nurses, hospitals and pharmacists that launched a new comprehensive online resource – – to give Americans easy-to-understand information about the law so they can make informed decisions for themselves and their families. 

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit

Alissa Havens or Steven Weiss
Phone: 202-661-5772 or 202-661-5711
E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected] 

More Press Releases AboutAccess to Health Care