SOURCE: National Business Group on Health

November 20, 2013 10:00 ET

National Business Group on Health Unveils an Employer's Guide to Cancer Treatment and Prevention

Comprehensive Guide Culminates Three-Year Initiative With National Comprehensive Cancer Network to Help Employers Address Cancer in the Workplace

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - Nov 20, 2013) -  The National Business Group on Health today culminated a three-year initiative to help employers battle the war on cancer in the workplace with the release of An Employer's Guide to Cancer Treatment and Prevention. The Guide, the industry's first publication of its kind, contains a series of comprehensive tools and resources to address the growing impact of cancer in the workplace. The project, launched in December 2010, was spearheaded by the National Business Group on Health in collaboration with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®).

For many employers, the cost of cancer treatment is typically among the top three conditions, representing, on average, 12% of total medical expenses. Cancer is also one of the leading causes of both short- and long-term disability. Additionally, more than 25% of employees act as caregivers to family members who are experiencing an illness, including cancer.

"Today, more than ever, employers are facing the growing impact of cancer in the workplace," said Helen Darling, President and CEO of the National Business Group on Health. "For employers, the financial, emotional and productivity burden of cancer in the workplace is high. With significant gains in cancer survival rates and most cancer survivors staying at work during their treatment or returning to work after their treatment, employers need a comprehensive benefits plan to ensure that their current strategies to address cancer in the workplace complement the needs of their employees. That's one of the main reasons we launched this project with NCCN -- to help employers meet this growing challenge."

The Guide provides technical assistance to help employers design, implement and monitor the performance of their cancer-related strategies. It contains a series of six tools with guidelines and recommendations based on published research and reports, including the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®). The tools are designed to coincide with the various steps in the employer benefit life cycle, including plan design, vendor and program management, enrollment and communications, plan administration, and vendor and program evaluation. In addition, the Guide addresses issues across the continuum of cancer care, including medical, pharmacy and behavioral benefits; short-term disability; family medical leave; employee assistance programs; and health improvement programs.

The project was led by a 35-member national advisory committee consisting of benefit managers, clinical cancer experts, medical directors, health plan and pharmaceutical representatives, health care consultants, disability managers, and EAP and health improvement professionals. Over the course of three years, a comprehensive set of tools and resources was developed to help employers deal with the many cancer-related workplace issues. The end result was the Guide. 

The Business Group and NCCN also developed several communication resources, including a Cancer Benefits and Resource Guide, that employers can use to educate employees and their families about key decisions they need to make, information that can help them as they deal with cancer, information about their employer-sponsored benefits and programs, and actions they can take to potentially reduce their risk of developing certain types of cancer. Additionally, the two organizations developed an Employer's Companion Guide that provides instruction on how to customize the Cancer Benefits and Resource Guide, and Fact Sheets with information on various cancer-related topics.

"NCCN has collaborated with the National Business Group on Health for the past three years, combining NCCN's clinical resources and expertise with the Business Group's resources to create a unique and valuable set of tools," said Robert W. Carlson, MD, CEO, NCCN. "This groundbreaking toolkit empowers employers to be proactive in their approach to dealing with the needs of their employees as they deal with their own or a loved one's cancer. We are proud to have been contributors to this project and believe it has already had, and will continue to have, an impact on improving access to quality care for many, many people dealing with cancer."

"Cancer casts a wide net, affecting not only those diagnosed with the disease, but also family members, friends, managers and co-workers. The impact on a company's culture can be profound. We believe the Guide is an excellent tool to help benefit managers deal effectively with the many issues about cancer that arise in the workplace," said Darling.

Delta Air Lines' Commitment to Cancer Prevention and Care

Speaking at a press conference to announce the Guide, Lynn Zonakis, Managing Director of Health Strategy and Resources at Delta Air Lines, Inc., called upon employers to take action to address cancer in the workplace, noting that the workplace presents a unique opportunity to effectively communicate with employees about cancer prevention and treatment. Zonakis highlighted Delta's initiatives that support cancer patients including full coverage for recommended cancer screenings, a Centers of Excellence program, ongoing communication on cancer topics and Delta Health Direct -- a confidential concierge health program that includes a nurse line, treatment decision support, wellness coaching and complex disease management.

"Employers can play a major role in keeping workers healthy and also supporting cancer patients during treatment and return to work. Large employers, especially, have the ability to specifically design health benefits to their workforce. This three-year project has certainly helped shape Delta's approach and commitment to addressing cancer in the workplace, and I know that other large employers will benefit greatly from the Guide," said Zonakis.

For more information about cancer in the workplace and to access An Employer's Guide to Cancer Treatment and Prevention, visit www.businessgrouphealth.org/cancer.

About the National Business Group on Health(SM)

The National Business Group on Health (the Business Group) is the nation's only non-profit organization devoted exclusively to representing large employers' perspective on national health policy issues and providing strategic and practical solutions to its members' most important health care and health benefits challenges.

Business Group members are primarily Fortune 500 companies and large public-sector employers -- representing the nation's most innovative health care purchasers -- that provide health coverage for more than 50 million U.S. workers, retirees and their families. The Business Group fosters the development of a safe, high-quality health care delivery system and treatments based on scientific evidence of effectiveness. Business Group members share strategies for controlling health care costs, improving patient safety and quality of care, increasing productivity and supporting healthy lifestyles.

About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®), a not-for-profit alliance of 23 of the world's leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education, is dedicated to improving the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of cancer care so that patients can live better lives. Through the leadership and expertise of clinical professionals at NCCN Member Institutions, NCCN develops resources that present valuable information to the numerous stakeholders in the health care delivery system. As the arbiter of high-quality cancer care, NCCN promotes the importance of continuous quality improvement and recognizes the significance of creating clinical practice guidelines appropriate for use by patients, clinicians, and other health care decision-makers.

Clinicians, visit NCCN.org. Patients and caregivers, visit NCCN.org/patients.

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