Dr Frederick Schnell on Employer Concerns in Cancer Coverage

Frederick Schnell, MD, FACP, medical director of COA, discusses how employers' concerns with cancer care coverage can be addressed without compromising quality.

Employers have a huge stake in their employees' health, and therefore should take interest in the sort of health care their employees are provided under their insurance coverage. Frederick Schnell, MD, FACP, medical director of the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), discusses how employers' concerns, particularly with cancer care coverage, can be addressed without compromising care quality.


Based on your experience and feedback from member practices, what seem to be the biggest concerns employers have surrounding coverage for cancer care?

The biggest concerns remain focused around cost and quality. But cost is still high. And the major cost issue for most of the employers that we interact with, as it relates to cancer care, is specialty drugs. You really can't make any headway in cancer care delivery in a more cost-effective way without ultimately addressing the drug costs.

[COA] has been focusing a lot of our educational initiatives and interacting with employers on the use of precision medicine tools and have a strong, enduring focus and commitment to making biosimilars work in the marketplace. We have task forces touching on all of these initiatives, as well as those related to clinical pathways and to integrating high-quality clinical care delivered on the ground to these other cost initiatives.

We want the experience to improve, and we believe that quality of care and oncology in COA practices is on equal scale to any. I believe, as a community oncology practitioner for over 30 years, that's very much the case. We're going to try to deliver the value message as we go forward and are trying to develop means of controlling costs as part of quality.