Employers’ Perspectives on Cancer Care Benefit Design and Access to Care

Murray Harber, Health Strategist at Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company and Executive Director of the Mississippi Business Group on Health, began the October 29 webcast session of the Association for Value-Based Cancer Care (AVBCC) 10th Annual Summit by discussing how employers design health benefit plans. He explained that health benefits are designed on an annual basis. The past 12 to 24 months of trends and claims are reviewed, and budgets and vendor partners are discussed to create a comprehensive plan for the upcoming year.

Karen van Caulil, PhD, President and CEO of Florida Alliance for Healthcare Value, said that there is a health deficit in health benefit literacy. A 2019 UnitedHealthcare Consumer Sentiment Survey reported 41% did not know the meaning of the term “health plan premium” and 79% did not know the current meaning of the term “co-insurance.” The solution to this deficit is an increase in financial navigators and health benefit education.

The experts in this session also noted that employers face numerous issues when looking at oncology cost data for benefit plans, because projections are complex and volatile.

“The overall cost profile is a combination of three things: the unit cost, the utilization, and the mixer intensity,” said Joseph Dizenhouse, FSA, MAAA, Senior Vice President and Head of Pharmacy Services at HealthTrust.

Art Taft, MBA, MEng, Partner at Medworks Consulting, LLC, who moderated the session, said that oncology medications are inflating 18 times faster than other drugs.

The WEBside Chat explored problems that arise while designing benefits programs. Carole Mendoza, MBA, Former Director of Global Health Benefits Strategy and Benefits Savings–Employee Engagement at IBM, offered her perspective on the topic, citing budget management as a common issue. Gerry Stanley, MD, Executive Consultant at COPE Health Solutions, also posed the question, “How do we define value and how do we define quality?”

It is not too late to register for the AVBCC Summit! With more than 40 webcasts and other sessions, the 10-week agenda is packed with timely insights and no-holds-barred debates that you need to understand today’s cancer care ecosystem and trends for the future.

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