With American Cancer Society estimates for 2020 cancer diagnoses at 1.8 million and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s initial reports unveiling cancer as the second leading cause of death that same year, employers are cementing the importance of focusing on experience, outcomes and value when it comes to supporting employees with cancer.
Cancer is often in the top-three diagnostic categories for employers and, with treatment options frequently exceeding $1 million per patient, is responsible for a significant portion of total medical spend.
Employer demand is driving the need for innovative cancer support benefits, which help reduce overall health care costs for sponsored health plans, while also better supporting employees coping with cancer by unlocking access to the best care possible. In a new era of molecular oncology and novel immunotherapy leading to rapid new advances that are only variably applied into new practices, the stakes for identifying the most timely, optimal cancer treatment have never been higher. Historically, care and support have been largely dictated by patient zip codes and proximity to cancer centers of excellence, but not anymore.
Now employers realize they can make a difference by offering supportive benefits and programs to employees who are faced with navigating an unwanted and often under-supported cancer journey.
COVID-19 Pandemic Delays Cancer Screenings, Diagnosis
It is a well-established fact backed by research: early detection saves lives. It can significantly improve patient survival rates and quality of life, as well as reduce the cost and complexity of cancer treatment. But in the COVID-19 era, fear of contracting the coronavirus has caused people to avoid screenings, diagnosis and even treatments.
Cervical, colon and breast cancer screenings were reportedly down 86% to 94% since March 2020, as organizations such as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommended postponing them to mitigate COVID-19 risks, and institutions followed suit. While health care providers are continually balancing the risk of COVID-19 infection with that of waiting weeks, or perhaps even months, to perform routine screening or tests based on patient symptoms, delayed work-ups can allow a cancer to transition from curable early stage disease if detected early, to a more advanced cancer ultimately diagnosed with a far less favorable prognosis. Faced with these challenges, leading-edge employers recognize an opportunity to provide impactful cancer care benefits for employees and loved ones who may face a cancer diagnosis.
With health and safety top of mind for many employers, HR leaders are determining new ways of taking care of their most important asset: their people.
Attracting and Retaining Talent
Cancer directly and indirectly touches many of us. With almost 1.9 million people estimated to receive a cancer diagnosis in 2021, it will be likely that some of them will be your employees or co-workers. But there is hope, and access to expert insights and the latest breakthroughs can play a vital role.
In a COVID-19 era, employers are paying more attention to comprehensive benefits that focus on an employee’s entire well-being. In fact, employers are designing health care packages with top-quality care as their primary objective, motivated both by the need to ensure their health care dollars are well spent as well as their desire for the best possible outcomes and quality of life for employees who have embarked on a cancer journey.
World-class employers accept the opportunity to offer innovative and forward-thinking health care options. They recognize the benefits that come with partnering with like-minded organizations that are creating innovative ways of delivering on the health care needs of their workforce now and in the future.
About the Author
Mark Stadler is CEO of AccessHope, a company delivering a novel employee health benefit that connects cancer patients and their families with expertise from National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers.