FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
Lori Gardner, Senior Director
Communications & Marketing
301.984.9496 ext. 226
For Immediate Release: October 25, 2012
Association of Community Cancer Centers Releases New Guidelines to Help Cancer Programs Develop Patient Advocacy and Financial Services Programs
ROCKVILLE, Md.—The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) has added new "Patient Advocacy and Financial Services" guidelines as part of its ACCC Cancer Program Guidelines. These new guidelines are intended to help cancer programs in providing a myriad of advocacy services on behalf of cancer patients. These services may include explaining insurance benefits and coverage eligibility to patients and their families; assessing and explaining treatment costs; and conducting financial screening of patients and families and assisting them with appropriate patient assistance and support service applications.
"In the wake of a cancer diagnosis, patients and their families are often at risk of drowning in a sea of questions and uncertainties. Patient advocates provide a life raft of information and assistance to help them stay afloat and move forward with treatment," said ACCC President-Elect and member of the Committee for Program Guidelines, Virginia T. Vaitones, MSW, OSW-C. "While we have made many advances in cancer treatment, they often come with an expensive price-tag. Today, patients and families are paying higher deductibles and co-payments."
According to a recent survey conducted for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, "Four in 10 (41%) people with a cancer diagnosis have had difficulty paying for healthcare costs in the past couple of years. Half (52%) of people under 65 with a history of cancer have had difficulty affording medical costs, and as a result 28% have used up all or most of their personal savings, 27% have been contacted by a collection agency, and 21% have incurred thousands of dollars in medical debt."
ACCC's Cancer Program Guidelines were established to assist cancer programs that want to develop and/or maintain a comprehensive multidisciplinary program that meets the needs of cancer patients and their families. The addition of guidelines on patient advocacy and financial services reflects the increasing need for these services. The guidelines cover the organization of a patient advocacy or financial assistance program, as well as the duties and responsibilities of patient advocates and financial specialists, including examination of insurance coverage and eligibility, determination of treatment-related costs for which the patient will be responsible, and screening and referral processes for support and financial assistance resources.
The new guidelines complement ACCC's comprehensive educational program, the "Financial Information and Learning Network," which offers tools and resources for cancer program staff that provide financial assistance to patients. Included are a 10-part online course, an online toolkit, an online forum to post and receive answers in real time, and web-based video feeds.
"In tandem, ACCC's guidelines and education program provide a roadmap to help community cancer programs develop effective patient financial advocacy efforts," Vaitones said.