It's been a big week in the childhood cancer world, with the successful community effort to get 7-year-old Josh Hardy the treatment he needs, as well as the Senate's passage of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act. We congratulate the many advocates and organizations that worked hard on those achievements, as well as the families of Josh Hardy and Gabriella Miller.
We also want to share some other news that might have gotten lost in the mix this week:
In healthcare news, it was announced that about 27% of new healthcare enrollees in February were the targeted demographic of young adults (18-34). The Administration is in the midst of a heavy media push to get more young adults to enroll at healthcare.gov by the March 31 open enrollment deadline. This NPR piece takes a look at the real cost of the tax penalty for those who choose to remain uninsured after that deadline.
In broader cancer news, we want to be sure that you haven't missed a new report out of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) on the "State of Cancer Care in America." The ASCO report contains some compelling information about current trends and projected challenges in oncology in the coming years, as well as recommendations for improving the outlook.
Key points include:
- By 2030, it is estimated that cancer cases will increase by 45 percent, from 1.6 million to 2.3 million cases annually. Although this increase will be largely driven by the aging of baby boomers, the incidence rate of childhood cancer is also on the rise.
- Because of the Affordable Care Act, an additional 29 million Americans will have health insurance by 2017. The demand for oncologists (and related oncology positions like nurses, pharmacists, and social workers) is expected to increase, creating a national shortage that could impact nearly half a million patients needing cancer care over the next decade.
- Oncology workers are especially sparse in rural communities, with no oncologists at all in over 70% of U.S. counties analyzed. Twenty percent of Americans live in rural communities, but only 3% of oncologists practice in them. The middle of the country is experiencing a severe shortage of younger, incoming oncologists.
- Drug prices have been rising steadily for decades, with no end in sight. Stakeholders, including physicians, insurers, policymakers, and advocates, will need to work together to develop a more rational pricing system. The total cost of cancer care is expected to reach $175 billion by 2020, a 40% increase from 2010.
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