The recent ProPublica article, “Big Insurance Met Its Match When It Turned Down a Top Trial Lawyer’s Request for Cancer Treatment,” sheds light on the issue of insurance denials for cancer treatments, particularly proton therapy. While it centers around a specific insurance company’s practices, the broader implications and patterns in cancer care denials are concerning and merit attention.
Robert Salim sought treatment from NAPT member MD Anderson Cancer Center for his stage four throat cancer. His experience, as highlighted in the article, exemplifies the uphill battle that many patients face when their health insurer denies their request for proton therapy. As a successful lawyer, he understood the intricacies of the insurance industry and had a track record of successfully taking on corporate giants. His experience and resourcefulness made him a formidable force in challenging the insurance industry, illustrating how a seasoned lawyer can play a central role in the fight for patients’ rights and access to life-saving medical treatments.
Salim’s motivation, as he stated, goes beyond personal gain, with a desire to prevent others from being unfairly denied treatment. This sentiment resonates with the findings of the 2023 NAPT Member Survey, which highlights the urgent need for reform to ensure deserving patients are not denied innovative treatments that could significantly enhance their chances of survival and quality of life.
The statistics from the survey further emphasize the challenges patients face, with a staggering 62% of radiation oncologists experiencing denials that are later overturned on appeal. Additionally, 42.8% of prior authorization requests for proton therapy were initially denied, hindering access to advanced treatment options and raising questions about the fairness of the prior authorization process. Alarmingly, 13.2% of prior authorization requests for proton therapy were denied even after exhausting all appeals, limiting patients’ access to potentially life-saving treatments.
This article is part of ProPublica’s investigative series, “Uncovered,” which underscores the need for systemic reform to ensure that patients receive optimal care without undue obstacles and delays. It serves as a call to action for healthcare providers, insurance companies, policymakers, and the public to collaborate in addressing these challenges and improving patient access to crucial treatments. Find more articles from the eye-opening “Uncovered” series here.
Visit the NAPT resource center for free downloadable resources related to this topic: