First and Largest Commercial Membership Payer to Announce Life-Saving Coverage for Those at Risk
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) today hailed WellPoint, Inc. for its decision to start covering CT screening for those at high risk for lung cancer.
In outreach to Samuel R. Nussbaum, M.D., WellPoint's Executive Vice President Clinical Health Policy and its Chief Medical Officer, Laurie Fenton-Ambrose, LCA President & CEO, praised the decision.
"Thank you WellPoint for showing extraordinary leadership and for moving swiftly and responsibly to offer life-saving coverage to those at risk for lung cancer," said Fenton Ambrose.
"Your actions are exactly in order – taking proven science and translating it into a benefit framework that begins to save lives – now!"
Earlier this year, the National Cancer Institute published the results of its eight year study which proved that screening people at high risk for lung cancer with CT scans before they had symptoms significantly reduced lung cancer deaths.
Bruce Pyenson of Milliman's New York office, one of the largest actuarial firms in the world, said, "The burden of late stage lung cancer is huge, with a high number of deaths each year, high treatment cost, and a very low survival rate. Yet early stage lung cancer has a vastly lower mortality rate, which explains why early detection can make a difference. WellPoint's announcement of coverage for lung cancer screening is an example of an insurer responding very rapidly to emerging evidence, which in this case included the release of the NLST findings." An analysis performed and published by Pyeson's team last year projected that over 70,000 lives a year could be saved through early detection of lung cancer.
"Because lung cancer causes nearly one in every three cancer deaths, the impact will be profound," said Fenton-Ambrose whose organization has been building a national network of support among leading research institutions, medical doctors, public health groups, veterans' service organizations and minority coalitions.
"Now, with WellPoint's leadership, we have commercial insurance companies at the table providing critical input and support as we further our work to develop lung cancer screening and its continuum of care framework," she said.
"This is the right thing to do and what we learn from screening those at high risk will lead to more breakthroughs for those at no obvious risk and for more effective treatments for those at all stages of diagnosed lung cancer," she noted
WellPoint, Inc. is the largest health benefits company in terms of commercial membership in the United States. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, WellPoint, Inc. is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association serving members in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, and specialty plan members in other states through UniCare.
Lung Cancer Alliance is the only national non-profit dedicated to providing support and advocacy for those living with or at risk for lung cancer. LCA is committed to reversing decades of stigma and neglect by empowering those with or at risk for lung cancer, elevating awareness and changing health policy at both the federal and state level.
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SOURCE Lung Cancer Alliance