New Jersey Insurers Expand Cancer Care Coverage

State Legislatures, April 2000 | Go to article overview

New Jersey Insurers Expand Cancer Care Coverage


New Jersey health insurers have voluntarily agreed to cover the costs of routine care for patients receiving experimental treatments in cancer clinical trials.

Some cancer advocates say this move--the first in the nation--could inspire states to expand coverage nationwide.

For people seeking treatment for cancer, insurance coverage for clinical trials can be a catch-22. Insurers do not routinely provide coverage because they say that such experimental treatments are not proven. Yet cancer researchers say that they need more patients enrolled in clinical trials to garner scientific support for new treatments.

Participating in a clinical trial can be a long, expensive process, which can have as many as five phases. Many patients shy away from joining these trials because they fear the cost. Only 3 percent of the New Jersey's 275,000 residents who live with or have survived cancer participate in clinical trials. The new agreement aims to increase the participation rates to 15 percent.

"Not only is this the right thing to do, but it allows cancer patients in the greatest need access to more choices in their treatment and care," says Assemblywoman Rose Heck, who chairs the New Jersey Policy and Regulation Oversight Committee and served on the working group.

In 1997, Rhode Island became the first state to require insurers to cover the costs associated with three phases of clinical trials for cancer. …

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New Jersey Insurers Expand Cancer Care Coverage
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