(May, 2000)

For many cancer patients, the best treatment option is care in a clinical trial, but no more than 2-3 percent of people with cancer enroll in clinical trials. A survey of researchers, conducted by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), found that denials of reimbursement for routine patient care costs are among the obstacles to enrollment in clinical trials. Routine patient care costs include those charges that insurance should be expected to cover, such as physician charges, hospital charges, and routine tests, but do not include research costs or the cost of investigational new drugs.

A number of states have enacted legislation requiring insurers to cover routine patient care costs for clinical trials, and none of those initiatives has resulted in an explosion of costs due to clinical trials enrollment. However, a state-by-state approach is not an adequate solution because it leaves many individuals at risk.

To address this situation, advocates for people with cancer recommend the following: