HEALTH CARE UPDATES
North Dakota just approved a new law that ensures the pill form of chemotherapy costs cancer patients the same amount as the traditional IV version and prevents insurance companies from increasing the cost of IV treatment.
As you might imagine, not every cancer patient in North Dakota lives near a cancer center to get regular chemotherapy treatment by IV. For years cancer patients going through treatment would have to travel long distances on a daily basis or stay hundreds of miles away from home for weeks just to get chemo through an IV in a clinical setting.
Medical advancements led to the development of a pill form of chemotherapy so patients could treat their cancer without having to travel to a clinical center. However, the pill form of chemotherapy was not covered by insurance companies the same way treatment through an IV was covered. This made the pill treatment so much more expensive that many patients could not afford the pill option due to the high costs. This new law will eliminate this barrier making treatment more affordable and accessible for cancer patients in North Dakota.
North Dakota joins Mississippi, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming on having passed similar legislation this year.
Learn more about the new North Dakota law in the recently published op-ed by American Cancer Society board member, Donald Warne.
New Hampshire became the most recent state to increase access to health care for low-income residents. The legislature passed a law directing the state to accept federal money to help people purchase insurance coverage through private health care companies.
The bipartisan plan will provide health coverage for an estimated 42,000 residents. It’s expected to reduce overall health care costs and save millions of taxpayer dollars being spent treating uninsured people in emergency rooms.
For many hardworking cancer patients who have been bankrupted by medical expenses, this new option will be their only access to quality health care. Extending coverage also provides hardworking, low-income Granite Staters with access to necessary cancer screening and detection.
Congratulations to the New Hampshire volunteers for their incredible work in helping pass this legislation.
According to figures released from the White House, more than 7 million people signed up for health insurance though the new health care marketplace. These “health care exchanges” were created as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
ACS CAN supported key provisions in the law that ensure cancer patients and survivors have access to health insurance coverage.
Key provisions included:
- Cancer patients and survivors can no longer be denied insurance due to preexisting conditions
- Elimination of annual or lifetime spending caps for insurance policies
- Children can stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26
For some cancer survivors, this was the first time in decades they have been able to get individual health insurance.
In his annual address to Congress, President Barack Obama discussed those who have been helped by key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Cancer wasn’t far from his mind.
“Because of this law, no American can ever again be dropped or denied
coverage for a preexisting condition like asthma, back pain, or cancer.”
When Congress was debating the then-health care reform bill in 2008, ACS CAN played a vital role in ensuring this provision was included. After all, a person who battles cancer shouldn’t also have to battle to maintain their health insurance.
Watch our short video featuring four ACS CAN volunteers whose lives will be changed by this law.
Health Insurance Marketplaces Now Open For Enrollment, Cancer Patients and Survivors Can Shop For Coverage
It’s the moment for which cancer patients and survivors have been waiting.
Starting on Oct. 1, patients and survivors will be able to enroll in state health insurance marketplaces (also known as exchanges), which will let them shop for insurance from competing health insurance companies.
The marketplace will let consumers comparison shop for the best health insurance plan for themselves and their families.
And, because people can no longer be denied health insurance or charged more because of a pre-existing condition, all patients and survivors who aren’t offered health insurance through their jobs, who are self-employed or who are unemployed will finally have an option to buy insurance.
This is the chance for people who may not have had a chance to buy health insurance since their cancer diagnosis to purchase affordable insurance. That means coverage for their treatment and maintenance that would have otherwise been out-of-pocket – a cost that before these marketplaces too often meant individuals were forced to choose between saving their life and their lifesavings.
The plans sold in the marketplaces will have to offer essential benefits to prevent, treat and survive a life-threatening disease such as cancer, and patients with low and moderate incomes may be eligible for financial help to afford the cost of the plans.
All cancer patients and survivors need to do to enroll is visit the Health Care Marketplace, find their state and fill out an application to see their plan choices.
Open enrollment for the health insurance marketplaces will run from Oct. 1 through March 31, 2014, but people who want coverage to start at the beginning of the new year should enroll as soon as possible.
Learn more about how the health care law benefits cancer patients and cancer survivors by reading our consumer guide, The Health Care Law: How It Can Help People With Cancer And Their Families.