Health Care Reform

HHS Secretary Releases New Report on Cancer and Health Insurance Reform

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–September 22, 2009.  HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today joined five NCAA Division I basketball coaches, Senators Robert Casey, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, and cancer survivors and advocates from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network to rally in support of health insurance reform. At the rally, Sebelius released Fighting Back Against Cancer: Health Insurance Reform and Cancer in America, a new report highlighting the devastating impact the health care status quo can have on Americans with cancer and their families.  The complete report is available now at

Coaches at today’s rally hosted by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network included:

  • Coach Mike Brey (University of Notre Dame)
  • Coach Ed DeChellis (Penn State University)
  • Coach Oliver Purnell (Clemson University)
  • Coach Tubby Smith (University of Minnesota)
  • Coach John Thompson III (Georgetown University)

“Cancer has touched nearly every American family, and millions of Americans have been forced to battle this disease while wondering how they will pay their medical bills,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Today, coaches, advocates and leaders teamed up to fight for reform that will ensure cancer patients can get the affordable, high-quality care they need.”

The new report issued by Secretary Sebelius examines the health care status quo and how it impacts cancer patients and their families. The report found:

  • Cancer affects 11 million Americans nationwide, and it affects people of every age, race, ethnicity, gender, and income level. In this year alone, roughly 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer, with almost half of new cases occurring in those under the age of 65.
  • According to a recent survey, 25 percent of individuals with cancer report using up all or most of their savings as a result of the financial burden of treating cancer.
  • In 45 states across the U.S., when a person with a health condition such as cancer tries to buy health insurance through the individual insurance market, insurance companies can charge higher premiums, exclude coverage for certain conditions, or even deny coverage altogether because of the pre-existing medical condition. Because of this, cancer patients, even when in remission, are unlikely to find meaningful insurance coverage in the individual insurance market.
  • While catching cancer early significantly increases a patient’s chances for survival, and significantly decreases the projected costs of treatment, measures that can help make sure cancer is caught early, like preventative screenings, are not used often enough. Twenty-four percent of women aged 40 and above, and 21 percent of women aged 50 and above, have not received a mammogram in the past two years. Additionally, a full 38 percent of men and women aged 50 and over have never received a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.

Health insurance reform will address these issues by providing all Americans with access to affordable, high-quality insurance, lowering health care costs, preventing insurance companies from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions and requiring preventative measures to be covered.

“Health insurance reform will give Americans the stability and security they need and help prevent or catch disease early,” added Sebelius.