As an oncology nurse working in the field for the last seven years, I have seen many changes in how cancer is treated. Not only are new intravenous therapies readily available but new oral chemotherapies are coming onto the market at a fast pace.
Oral chemotherapy means taking chemotherapy in a pill form instead of IV. It is often more convenient for the patient and provides a less invasive way of receiving cancer treatment. But at what cost to the patient?
Unfortunately, oral chemotherapies are extremely costly and place a financial burden on the patient. Medicare and other insurance companies may cover the cost of some of these medications but potentially will leave the patient with extremely high co-pays.
In 2008, Oregon became the first state to require health insurance companies that offer coverage for IV chemotherapy to offer the same coverage for oral chemotherapies. Other states are trying to follow their lead. Some states are even attempting to move oral chemotherapy into a medical benefit as opposed to a prescription benefit, which will also cut down on the cost for the patient.
The diagnosis of cancer is scary and stressful enough. Learning it may cost you and your family thousands of dollars to treat the disease can be extremely overwhelming. Patients may opt out of treatment for their disease when oral chemotherapies are so costly and IV chemotherapy can be so inconvenient.
Supporting House Bill 1825 will provide patients better coverage for oral chemotherapy, therefore, decreasing their financial strain.
Lyndi Alberts, Atlanta