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Many top cancer hospitals not covered by state health insurance exchange plans, AP survey finds

Wednesday, April 02 2014 | Comments
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While Americans are now eligible for health insurance through state insurance exchanges, many of these plans do not cover the top cancer hospitals, a new survey shows.

In an Associated Press survey of nationally recognized comprehensive cancer centers, only four of the 19 respondents said patients have access through all the insurance plans in their state exchanges.

The AP survey included 19 institutions that are part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network of leading cancer hospitals that were asked how many insurance companies in their state's exchange included them as a network provider.

The four centers that reported access through all insurers in their states' exchanges were the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore; Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia; Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, N.C.; and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn. Even among these four, some insurers did not include these hospitals on selected low-cost plans, according to the AP.

Some of the well-known cancer centers that did not report access by all exchange plans included Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, MD Anderson Cancer Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The AP explained the plans on the exchanges limit the networks of hospitals and physicians to keep premiums low, noting that an insurer can cut costs by not including a top cancer center.

For now, this issue has not extended to Americans with job-based insurance, but could affect them if employers switch to narrow networks, the AP warned.

The Obama administration says it plans to closely scrutinize the insurers' networks next year in the 36 states served by the federal exchange, with cancer care being a priority, the news agency said.

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