Cancer patients fight to get insurance companies to include latest chemotherapy treatments

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Oral cancer treatments are the latest in chemotherapy technology; however, insurance companies in Missouri aren't required to cover the option. Now, cancer patients have joined legislators to change that.

Ten years ago, Laura Whitaker wouldn't have been able to work. Cancer treatments forced her to miss out on a lot of moments.

"Lots of sleeping on the couch when I could have been playing Candyland with kids," she said.

She's now a cancer survivor, but has a new battle: making all chemotherapy treatments available for insurance.

"I believe there's a way to kick cancer and we don't have to completely take someone down to bare bones," Whitaker said, "there's a way to do it more humanely."

Insurance companies in Missouri don't have to cover chemotherapy treatments by pill. Fifty-two Missouri representatives want to change that.

"Even just the way that the dose is administered can improve somebody's quality of life tremendously," Whitaker said.

According to a study by Lewis & Ellis of Overland Park, Kan., at most, it will cost 52 cents more a month to include oral treatments. However, insurance companies say it will cost around $12 million.

The Missouri Insurance Coalition said it would create higher patient premiums.

Representative Sheila Solon has tried to push the bill for three years.

"We want to put those decisions you know when a patient is battling cancer in the hands of doctors and patients and not in the hands of insurance companies," Solon said.

Twenty-seven states have already passed similar legislation. 

Whitaker wishes she had the choice a decade ago.

 "It would just be such a huge improvement for people who are already dealing with a health crisis," she said.

Representative Solon said the bill should be passed onto committee within the next 10 days. A similar bill has also been drafted at the Missouri Senate.

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