Kids' Cancer Study Assesses the Costs

Long-term survival rates justify high price of treatment, researcher says

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WEDNESDAY, June 5, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Insurance companies should pay for expensive cancer treatments for children because most of those therapies extend the children's lives for 30 to 50 years or more, says a study from Duke University in Durham, N.C.

A Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher studied young patients in a large Indianapolis cancer center and found that the initial treatment costs can exceed $75,000 per child. Yet the average cost per year of life saved is just $2,700, assuming that 70 percent of the children live for 50 years.

But insurers don't have access to the type of data that would justify spending such large amounts on cancer treatment for children, says the researcher, who presented his findings at the recent American Society of Clinical Oncologists meeting in Orlando, Fla.

He says the high initial treatment costs skew the insurance approval process against paying for these treatments, even though they're medically necessary and cost-effective in the long term. Conducting this kind of study on health-care treatment and cost effectiveness helps insurers make informed decisions, the researcher adds.

More information

The Nemours Foundation hosts a KidsHealth site, which offers a full explanation for kids wanting to know about cancer.

SOURCE: Duke University news release, May 2002

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