Arizona Oncology Meets Rising Costs of Cancer Care
Organization on Track to Provide $3.8 Million Worth of Patient Assistance in 2010
PHOENIX—The economy and healthcare are top of mind for most people these days. For those facing cancer, the realities can be sobering—and life-threatening. Recent physician anecdotes published in the New England Journal of Medicine point to a disturbing trend whereby patients’ cancer is returning after being in remission. In each case, the patient stopped or altered his or her treatment plan due to inadequate insurance and an inability to cover medication costs that can climb into the thousands per month. Fortunately, Arizona Oncology patients have the Oncology Reimbursement Solutions (ORS) Patient Assistance Support program, a service of US Oncology. Last year, Arizona Oncology generated more than $3.2 million in financial assistance and Arizona Oncology is on track to provide nearly $3.8 million in 2010. This type of support helps ensure that patients can concentrate on their most important issue—fighting cancer.
At Arizona Oncology, physicians are committed to ensuring that finances will not stand in the way of treating a patient’s cancer. Once a patient’s treatment plan is set, the next step is to meet with a patient representative who reviews the costs. If the financial aspect of the plan at all hinders the patient’s ability to move forward with treatment, ORS is engaged to help find assistance. The ORS team is comprised of experts such as an oncology certified nurse, pharmacy technician, social worker, benefits investigator and reimbursement experts. These professionals have knowledge of the programs that best fit a patient’s needs. This may include pharmaceutical assistance programs, foundation grants and clinical trials. Currently, more than 7 percent of Arizona Oncology’s patients—double the national average—are taking part in clinical trials. These trials often cover the cost of life-saving and life-extending cancer medications.
“As private physicians, part of our mission is to treat every patient in need of help,” says. Jerry Lucas, MD, a Phoenix radiation oncologist. “We may recommend a specific treatment, but if a patient’s insurance will only pay for so much, they may not get the treatment because they can’t afford it. When we can help our patients not only manage the medical side of their treatment, but the financial realities as well, it provides them with tremendous peace of mind, not to mention the prospect of a better result.”
The cost of treating cancer is escalating while reimbursements for care are declining. Current statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and Consumer Report Organization indicate that an estimated 46 million people are uninsured and 40 percent of those with insurance are underinsured, putting them without the necessary resources to cover the rather astonishing costs of cancer treatment. Recently the American Cancer Society and LIVESTRONG®released a study that assigned a trillion dollar figure to the cost of death globally, including the economic cost of cancer. Amazingly, that amount didn’t account for direct medical costs, which researchers estimate may have doubled that trillion dollar figure. In March, an analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that spending on cancer care increased by $63 billion from 1990 to 2008, attributed partly to the rising costs of new drugs and treatment. And a 2006 survey by USA Today, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found that one in four cancer patients or their families said they used up all or most of their savings to pay for treatment.
Arizona Oncology, a division of US Oncology, uses cutting-edge therapeutic pathways to provide patients with the latest evidence-based treatments. This national affiliation ensures that patients benefit from the most recent research, as well as access to more cost-effective treatment options. ORS Patient Assistance Support, a service of US Oncology, offers these patient assistance support services to practices in the United Network of US Oncology that have a comprehensive strategic alliance relationship with the company.
ABOUT ARIZONA ONCOLOGY
Arizona Oncology is the largest group of medical professionals in Arizona devoted exclusively to cancer care. With 48 practicing physicians, we serve patients at more than 24 locations throughout Arizona, including Cottonwood, Deer Valley, Flagstaff, Green Valley, Marana, Nogales, Oro Valley, Phoenix, Prescott Valley, Safford, Scottsdale, Sedona, Sierra Vista and Tucson. We are proud to provide comprehensive, compassionate, cancer care in a patient-focused, cost effective, community-based setting. Arizona Oncology provides patients with access to the latest treatments, state-of-the-art technology and access to cutting edge nationwide research and clinical trials. We believe it is beneficial when these therapies are provided in a community setting, close to patients' home and your support system. Our physicians are supported by talented clinical staff members who are sensitive to the needs of cancer patients and their caregivers. For more information, please visit www.ArizonaOncology.com.
ABOUT US ONCOLOGY
US Oncology, Inc., is the nation’s leading integrated oncology company By uniting the largest community-based cancer treatment and research network in America, US Oncology expands patient access to high quality care and advances the science of cancer care. Headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas, US Oncology is affiliated with more than 1,300 community-based oncologists and works with patients, hospitals, payers and the medical industry across all phases of the cancer research and delivery continuum. By promoting the use of innovative technology, clinical research, evidence-based medicine and shared best practices, US Oncology improves patient outcomes and offers a better patient experience.