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NEBGH Report a valuable tool for identifying best practices in cancer care quality for employees

April 2016

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As a response to growing concerns over the high cost of cancer care, the Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH) Solutions Center, over the course of two 2015 workshops, mounted a study that surveyed 19 self-insured employers representing 1.2 million employees, as well as physicians, oncology experts, employer benefits professionals, executives from health plans, hospitals, consulting organizations, cancer associations, and suppliers of healthcare-related services. The purpose of the study was to determine what top-performing employers need to do if they wish to provide.

Based in New York City, NEBGH is an non-for-profit organization active in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, representing national and global employers, as well as national health plans and benefit consulting organizations, health systems, and innovators in healthcare-related products and services.

The resulting report, Employers and Cancer Care Quality: A Closer Look, was published in April 2016 and provides supporting data from the survey, as well as access to sources and best practices for setting up employee support networks and full access to benefits and provider information.

The study also reveals that while some employers already lead the way in providing cancer care by hiring dedicated nurse managers, providing cancer-specific portals and guides for benefits, programs, and policies, only 68% provide decision support or guidance for employees who have received a cancer diagnosis. Less than half (only 48%) offer critical illness insurance; only 42% provide a network of high-performing oncology doctors, and only 37% offer financial support services specific to cancer such as financial planning, emotional counseling, and treatment navigation. Only one respondent reported paying a monthly management fee for pathway-delivered care.

Although NEBGH data supports obtaining second opinions, employers tend to not support seeking third-party second-opinions, even though data clearly shows the importance of second opinions and early treatment navigation. Second opinions can often reveal an initial misdiagnosis and/or point to a different treatment path, yet employers do not necessarily guide employees in the direction of obtaining a second opinion, whether via their health plan or a second opinion service.

While revealing many gaps and weaknesses in employer-sponsored cancer care, the report also provides employers with tools for support, as well as guidelines for establishing best practices, such as Employer Resources; a Checklist for Cancer Care Benefits, Programs, and Policies; a Cancer Care Quality Glossary that is invaluable for helping employers navigate clinical terms, and a Cancer Care Resources List that provides links to navigation services for employees, and organizations such as the American Cancer Society Support System and information on clinical trials.

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