According to a 2014 report by the Associated Press, only 4 out of 19 of America’s best cancer hospitals which responded to a survey are included in all health plans that are offered by insurance companies in the state exchanges under Obamacare.
These hospitals are part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a nonprofit alliance of 25 of the world’s leading cancer centers which provide state-of-the-art cancer treatment, clinical research and trials, and new medications for patients.
The 4 cancer hospitals which provide patient access through all insurers on its state exchanges include:
However, the AP report also notes that “some insurers did not include these cancer centers on certain low-cost plans.”
For the remaining cancer hospitals and survey respondents, insurance plans come with in-state challenges or no in-network access at all. For example, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY is included in 5 of 7 exchange plans in its region. Across the state of New York, the cancer center is not included in health plans offered by 11 of 16 insurance companies on the state exchanges.
While one of the provisions under Obamacare ensures that people with cancer will no longer be denied health insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions, as well as providing free preventive screenings for colon (read here), breast and cervical cancers (read here) – obstacles still remain for cancer patients trying to access, and afford, the best cancer care in America.
In recent years, other reports have also highlighted the high medical costs of cancer care in the U.S. (statistics here). Meanwhile, cancer diagnosis rates are expected to jump nearly 45%, from 1.6 million to 2.3 million new cancer cases annually, according to a study from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Cancer treatment also comes with steep, often unplanned for non-medical costs, such as missed work days and the loss of income or travel and hotel expenses for out-of-network care. To help, some organizations do provide financial solutions and help for cancer patients through special programs, like Angel Airline Samaritans and the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge.
Cancer and critical illness insurance policy options are also available online and provide a lump-sum payment upon diagnosis (learn more). The payout from supplemental plans like these can be used for both medical and non-medical costs.
(Image via NY Post.)