Sunday, October 26, 2014

Affordable Care Act and Cancer

Yesterday, a bunch of us breast cancer people were together at a lunch. One of the topics of conversation that came up was what portion of breast cancer treatment would be covered by health insurance. For example, would a mastectomy be covered fully or not. We discussed it and we all came up with we really didn't know and needed more research.

Not a good answer.

And then this morning I read this article on access to cancer care under the ACA. It is a disappointment.

Yes the ACA has meant that insurers can no longer drop patients with cancer diagnoses nor are there lifetime caps in coverage. However, there is no guarantee that you will be able to get specialized cancer care.

This is because while under the Act, insurers must meet specific requirements, they do not have to allow you access to official cancer centers.

"...patients are discovering that many plans are limited to narrow networks of doctors and hospitals. Some large cancer centers don’t accept any of the insurance plans that are available through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

According to a 2014 study commissioned by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, many insurance plans available through the healthcare exchanges did not provide coverage for treatment and services at cancer centers with National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation. A 2014 Associated Press (AP) survey also found limited access to specialty cancer care. Of the 19 nationally recognized comprehensive cancer centers that responded to the AP survey, only four were included in all the insurance plans offered on their states’ exchanges."

However, do not forget your local oncologist. You may not need a specialty cancer center. I don't go to a specialty cancer center and I'm doing fine. I actually like having my oncologist and primary care and rhuematologist and endocrinologist and pain management and all the other doctors all in the same place. They talk about me when issues arise.

However if I hit cancer #3, I would probably make a trip to a specialty cancer center. (But that's what I said about cancer #2....) But I digress, the ACA act is protecting is us a good deal and helping prevent medical bankruptcies. And it may not cover everything. But I think I am happy with the ACA.

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