OCRA is working hard to help ensure that ovarian cancer patients are able to receive the best care possible regardless of geographic, financial or other barriers. We engage with a variety of stakeholders — including health care practitioner societies, patients and federal partners — to ensure that the below criteria are met.
All patients deserve the best quality treatment and care available, and should have access to gynecologic oncologists for surgery, and standard of care treatment as outlined by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Furthermore, patients should be able to receive this care without experiencing financial hardship.
Unfortunately, research shows that almost 2 out of 3 women do not receive standard of care treatment. Typically, women treated at large, high-volume hospitals receive standard of care, whereas those treated at low-volume hospitals often do not. Additional research has shown that women from low-income or minority backgrounds typically have poorer survival.
The availability of ovarian cancer clinical trials and patient participation rates need to increase, as clinical trials are essential to the discovery of new and better therapies. In addition to advancing science, patients may also have the chance to receive the latest and most innovative investigational medicines to fight their cancer. Unfortunately, clinical trial participation rates are extremely low (around 3%) and recently, we have seen a decline in the availability of gynecologic clinical trials.
A recent report found that since 2011, we have seen a 90% decline in patient enrollment in phase III gynecologic clinical trials sponsored by NCI. Several factors likely contributed to this decline including uncertainty over year-to-year federal funding, increasingly narrowing eligibility restrictions, and geographic and financial constraints.
OCRA is working to address this decline. We have been working with Members of Congress, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and other organizations and stakeholders to develop concrete steps to broaden the availability of clinical trials and encourage robust participation.
Legislation should secure access to all FDA-approved cancer treatment regimens, regardless of the delivery method, by ensuring patients don’t face dramatically higher out-of-pocket costs because of how medicine is classified.
Over the past several years, access to health insurance coverage has improved. While this is an important development, we believe these plans must provide adequate coverage for women with ovarian cancer and those at high risk of developing the disease. Specifically, these plans should include access to preventative services, diagnostic tests, the best possible drug therapies, clinical trials, and palliative care. Insurance networks should include access to gynecologic oncologists, as research clearly shows improved outcomes for women treated by these specialists.
Ovarian cancer is an expensive disease to treat, with estimated costs ranging up to $200,000 for care in the first year post-diagnosis. In order to limit patient out-of-pocket expenditures, OCRA closely monitors the benefits design of health insurance plans and promotes policies that seek to protect patients from financial hardships.