In recent years, patients have seen the cost of cancer care increase dramatically. Insurance companies like Highmark in Pennsylvania note that nothing is actually being done to improve patient care. Instead, “previously independent oncology clinics and private practices have been acquired by big hospital systems that charge higher rates for chemotherapy drugs.”
While the Affordable Care Act was put in place to help patients pay less for inpatient treatment, hospitals –in an effort to meet the expensive demands of 24-hour emergency rooms—found that if they bought up private oncology clinics they could increase their revenue and market share. By doing so, “hospitals are creating networks that give them the power to set prices and ultimately raise costs for private insurers and government programs such as Medicare.” We are seeing fewer and fewer independent medical offices and clinics because of this.
Patients end up paying almost twice as much for cancer treatment under this system. For example, “Hercetin, a breast cancer drug from Genentech costs private insurers $2,740 when used in an independent clinic and $5,350 in a hospital outpatient setting, according to an analysis of 2012 claims by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute.”
Organizations like the Community Oncology Alliance, and the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, are speaking out about this issue. Steven Weiss, spokesperson for the ACSCAN, reminds us that “long-standing trends like this one continue to threaten patient access to lifesaving care.”
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