Providing insurance coverage for multicancer early detection (MCED) tests is vital to reduce disparities in access, said Patricia Deverka, MD, MS, senior researcher, deputy director at the Center for Translational and Policy Research and Precision Medicine, University of California San Francisco.
Patricia Deverka, MD, MS, senior researcher, deputy director at the Center for Translational and Policy Research and Precision Medicine, University of California San Francisco, talks about the ways multicancer early detection (MCED) tests can reduce disparities.
How can MCED tests both reduce or widen disparities in cancer screening, and what are some possible solutions?
I think there are some theoretical ways that these tests could reduce disparities. I say that because, currently, we don't have clear evidence that these tests have net benefits; we haven't demonstrated clinical utility yet. With that sort of caveat, I do think that, potentially, the ease of use of a single blood draw could potentially reduce disparities if there were barriers to access to screening tests for certain disadvantaged populations, whether that be geography or socioeconomic status or cultural beliefs, so that may help to reduce disparities.
I also think if they can detect more aggressive cancers, we know that those disproportionately affect minority patients, so that could potentially be a way to reduce disparities. Frankly, most people can't pay $1000 out-of-pocket for 1 of these tests. The biggest way to reduce disparities, again assuming that these tests have clinical utility, is to provide insurance coverage. Many screening tests, for example those with the USPSTF rating of A or B, have first dollar coverage, meaning there's no out-of-pocket expense for access to the screening test. I think all of those would be important because, currently, the only people right now that have access to the test are people that can pay out-of-pocket. It may also be that some physicians that treat the majority of their patient population are disadvantaged patients. They may need additional educational support to make sure that there's appropriate use of these tests.