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The Best Cancer Care: 8 Things You Should Know

Nothing strikes at the heart like hearing the word cancer.

In addition to the physical toll, cancer can be financially devastating, too:

Cancer patients are 2.5x more likely to go bankrupt than healthy adults[i] due to lost wages, travel and child care expenses, and other out-of-pocket costs.

Cancer survivors are 1.4x more likely to be unemployed than those who never had cancer[ii] as they deal with lingering chronic problems like fatigue, pain, anxiety, and depression.

Standard cancer care models tend to keep patients in hospitals and away from their families and jobs. But some health plans and hospital systems are teaming up to revolutionize the way cancer is treated.

New evidence-based cancer treatment models have been shown to cut costs by as much as 35%. And the outcomes are just as good, or better, than typical care models.[iii]

This type of cancer care helps reduce patient stress.[iv] And by minimizing the number of tests and treatments (and keeping patients out of hospitals), these new models get them back to their lives as quickly as possible.

Here’s what you need to look for to ensure your loved ones get the best care:

 

Issues you might face with standard cancer care models: Look for a cancer care model that will:
I feel like all I do is get tests and treatments. Are they all necessary for my recovery?[v] Help reduce the risk of getting too many treatments (which can make patients sick) by using only medically necessary tests and treatments that follow plans based on the most recent clinical research
I have to wait too long to see my specialist. I’m anxious because there’s nothing I can do in the meantime.[vi] Ease anxiety and start treatments faster by connecting patients with specialists within 3 – 5 days of diagnosis
I have a hard time keeping all these appointments straight. Plus I feel like my doctors never talk to each other. It’s so overwhelming.[vii] Use care navigators to coordinate tests, treatments, social services, and logistics from everyone involved in the patients’ care
I’m not sure if my doctors have the most advanced knowledge.[viii] Provide care based on the most up-to-date clinical research and give access to a wide variety of clinical trials for rare and complex types cancer, all leading to the best possible results
It seems like authorization for my tests and treatments are always being denied. It holds everything up, and I feel like I can’t get the care I need.[ix] Use preauthorized treatment plans that quickly provide the most effective therapies for each patient’s specific cancer, without the red tape[x]
I spend so much time and money driving to the large city hospital every time I have an appointment. Make it convenient and less stressful to get tests and treatments – even for complex types of cancer – at community-based sites that are close to home and work[xi]
I wish there was something I could have done to prevent this. Or I wish I would have detected it sooner![xii] Promote healthy lifestyles and focus on providing preventive screenings for cancers that are hereditary.
The costs just seem to pile up. Even though I have insurance, every time I have a test or treatment, I have a copay. I feel like no one realizes how expensive cancer care is. Create an approach to cancer care that helps to manage the cost of care at every step – as outlined in this table – to deliver the best possible clinical and financial outcomes for patients[xiii]

 

 

*This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns regarding a medical condition. Health plan coverage is subject to the terms of your health plan benefit agreement.
[i] Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center: Cancer, bankruptcy and death: study finds a link.
[ii] de Boer AGEM, Taskila T, Ojajärvi A, van Dijk FJH, Verbeek JHAM. Cancer survivors and unemployment: a meta-analysis and meta-regression. J Am Med Assoc 2009;301:753–762.
[iii] Oncology Times: First Published Cost-Effectiveness Study of Evidence-Based Clinical Pathways Documents 35% Lower Costs with No Differences in Survival. March 10, 2010. Volume 32, Issue 5.
[iv] Depression (PDQ): Health professional version. National Cancer Institute – PDQ Cancer Information Summaries.
[v] Health Affairs: Reducing Waste in Health Care. A third or more of what the US spends annually may be wasteful. How much could be pared back—and how—is a key question. (PDF)
[vi] Merritt Hawkins 2014 Survey: Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicaid and Medicare Acceptance Rates. (PDF)
[vii] National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship: Challenges of Care Coordination in a Fragmented Health Care System.
[viii] Oncology Times: First Published Cost-Effectiveness Study of Evidence-Based Clinical Pathways Documents 35% Lower Costs with No Differences in Survival. March 10, 2010. Volume 32, Issue 5.
[ix] Institute of Medicine of the National Academies: Academic Health Centers: Leading the Change in the 21st Century. 2004.
[x] Journal of Oncology Practice: Implementation of Cancer Clinical Care Pathways: A Successful Model of Collaboration Between Payers and Providers. May, 2012.
[xi] NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 81: Advanced Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment.
[xii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Cancers Diagnosed at Late-Stages Despite Available Screening Tests, November 24, 2010.
[xiii] Institute of Medicine of the National Academies: Academic Health Centers: Leading the Change in the 21st Century. 2004.