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NCCN/National Business Group on Health Collaboration Produces Guide for Employers

September 2013, Vol 4, No 7

Hollywood, FL—A collaboration between the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the National Business Group on Health can help employers navigate the confusing landscape of employee benefits. Patricia J. Goldsmith, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the NCCN, described the project, and the needs of employers that helped shape the project, at the Third Annual Conference of the Association for Value-Based Cancer Care.

“We heard from many employers that while they have rich and deep benefits, they were not really working together,” Ms Goldsmith said. “We wanted to help employers to get those benefits to work together and to have tools for evaluating the effectiveness of what they were purchasing. We convened a very high-profile group of stakeholders across many disciplines to help advise us on this project.”

The goals of An Employer’s Guide to Cancer Treatment and Prevention are to develop a comprehensive approach to cancer care benefits that is driven by evidence; to provide easy-to-use tools for evaluating and designing benefit plans and for selecting vendors; to promote standardization and integration of cancer-related benefits across vendors, programs, providers, and beneficiaries; and to support quality improvement, tools, and processes to help employers evaluate the effectiveness of these services.

Figure: Employer’s Guide to Cancer Care.
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The Figure outlines the approach and plan of the employer’s guide developed by the NCCN and the National Business Group on Health.

Cancer is important to employers not only because of its high cost but also because of the associated loss in productivity, which is estimated to be $19 million annually. Short-term disability claims average almost 90 days and are often exhausted, so that patients with cancer often tap into long-term disability benefits.

“We learned from employers that they lacked the knowledge, and sometimes the resources, they need to really understand how to develop a benefit design,” Ms Goldsmith said.

A Clear, Simple Resource for Employers

The project was undertaken to provide clear, simple resources for employers, including benefit recommendations, objectives, rationale, and other guidance. Employers will find it easy to compare benefits and simple to assess whether changes in benefits make sense. The guide includes request-for-proposal tools to aid in vendor selection, and provides guidance about vendor accountability and communication with employees.

Interviews with large employers indicated that they most want evidence-driven benefits, evidence-based and personalized care for beneficiaries, integration and coordination across the benefit and cancer continuums, and standardization of benefits across health plans and vendor accountability. The guide has attempted to meet these needs, and its recommendations extend beyond medical, surgical, and pharmaceutical benefits into the areas of prevention screening and hospice survivorship.

An actuarial analysis is being incorporated into the project, which will estimate cost-savings, cost neutrality, or cost increases related to the medical, surgical, and pharmaceutical recommendations provided to the employers.

“We believe that this will give the employers additional understanding of what the benefit recommendations may cost them or, hopefully, in some circumstances, what dollars it may actually save them,” Ms Goldsmith said.

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