Against all logic, cancer patients pay much more to take chemotherapy pills than to undergo intravenous treatments.
That’s because insurance companies cover intravenous chemotherapy as a medical benefit with fixed co-pays and a ceiling on out-of-pocket costs. Oral chemotherapy, though cheaper to administer, is usually considered a pharmaceutical benefit. Patients pay a percentage of the drug costs and aren’t protected by an out-of-pocket limit.
The difference can amount to thousands of dollars a month, forcing many patients to use the more hazardous and inconvenient intravenous treatments.
More than half the states, including Kansas, have passed “cancer parity” bills to compel insurers to even up the costs.
But in Missouri, the insurance industry has thwarted efforts to join the patient-oriented movement. It’s time for lawmakers to do the right thing and make it affordable for cancer patients to take the medication best suited to their needs.
Insurers say the change would be prohibitively expensive. But an actuarial study put the increase for the average insurance policyholder at only an additional 57 cents a month.
That doesn’t count lost work time and the cost of providing IV treatments. Affordable chemotherapy pills will spare many patients medical complications, including infections.
A parity bill sponsored by Sheila Solon, a Blue Springs Republican, is waiting for a vote in the House’s general laws committee. A companion Senate bill, sponsored by Republicans Ryan Silvey of Kansas City and Brian Munzlinger of northeast Missouri, is also awaiting action.
No state should make life harder for cancer patients. Missouri must approve parity this session.