Insurance carriers reach deal on clinical trial coverage

Nebraskans who are sick and are considering taking part in a clinical trial now will have a better idea of what their health insurance policies will cover. An agreement has been approved by members of the Nebraska Insurance Federation.
State Senator Mike Gloor, of Grand Island, says it provides guidelines for coverage of routine care for patients enrolled in clinical trials. Senator Gloor says, “As a result of bringing attention to this issue through legislation we ended up with an agreement between the insurers, and the institutions and the individuals providing the research to make sure that routine costs associated with a patients care are covered.”
The federation represents about 90 percent of insurance carriers in Nebraska. The model can be used by health insurance carriers to allow consistency in coverage.
Dale Hartwig, a vice president at St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island, says, “Access to clinical trials in essence becomes an extension of the latest care available in the urban, tertiary centers. So, if you are in a rural area and enroll in a clinical trial, your care is the same as what you would receive at the National Cancer Institute.”
Clinical trials produce medical breakthroughs by determining whether new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatments can benefit patients. Health officials say countless lives around the world have been saved and improved through advancements in medicine tested and verified through clinical trials.
Dr. Ken Cowan, director of the University of Nebraska Medical Center Eppley Cancer Center, says, “Completion and enrollment in clinical trials is an important thing we can do to advance our knowledge in how best to treat patients. If we can get more adults patients enrolled in clinical trials, we’d actually make faster progress and improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer.”
The agreement makes Nebraska one of 27 states with either a law or this sort of cooperative agreements. Senator Gloor says the goal is to be able to get treatment started right away and to have confidence in health insurance coverage for that treatment.