The impact of expanding health insurance coverage for anti-cancer drugs on cancer survival in Korea

Cancer Med. 2021 Jun 18. doi: 10.1002/cam4.3979. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: To reduce out-of-pocket costs, the Korean government expanded health insurance reimbursement in anti-cancer drugs for cancer patients in 2013. Our objective was to examine the impact of the benefit coverage expansion policy on healthcare utilization and overall survival (OS) among patients with six types of solid cancer after the policy of expanding health insurance coverage.

METHODS: This study analyzed a before-and-after retrospective cohort of patients newly diagnosed with six types of solid cancer (stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer) from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2015 in Korea. The intervention was the expansion of reimbursement in 2013. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate the policy effect.

RESULTS: In total, 142,579 before and 147,760 patients after the benefit expansion, and after matched by age, gender, and stage, 132,440 before and 132,440 patients after policy were included in the analysis. Almost total medical expenditure increased for five types of cancer increased. The expansion of health insurance reimbursement was associated with significantly lower overall mortality compared with pre-policy mortality for all six cancer sites.

CONCLUSION: The policy of expanding health insurance reimbursement might have been associated with a significant increase in survival among cancer patients by ensuring access to health care and medicine. Although the reimbursement expansion timing differs for each cancer, it is believed that eliminating delayed treatment might rather lead to reduce medical expenses and improve health outcomes.

PMID:34145980 | DOI:10.1002/cam4.3979