Background: Prior to January 1, 2014, many group health plans and insurers specifically excluded any costs related to “experimental” or “investigational” treatments from their policies, effectively eliminating coverage for clinical trials.
In 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) amended The Public Health and Welfare code of federal regulations to include a new key requirement for insurers and group health plans to cover costs related to clinical trials.
Coverage for Individuals Participating in Approved Clinical Trials
(1) In general
If a group health plan or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage provides coverage to a qualified individual, then such plan or issuer—
(A) may not deny the individual participation in the clinical trial referred to in subsection (b)(2);
(B) subject to subsection (c), may not deny (or limit or impose additional conditions on) the coverage of routine patient costs for items and services furnished in connection with participation in the trial; and
(C) may not discriminate against the individual on the basis of the individual’s participation in such trial.
(2) Routine patient costs
For purposes of paragraph (1)(B), subject to subparagraph (B), routine patient costs include all items and services consistent with the coverage provided in the plan (or coverage) that is typically covered for a qualified individual who is not enrolled in a clinical trial.
For purposes of paragraph (1)(B), routine patient costs does not include—
(i) the investigational item, device, or service, itself;
(ii) items and services that are provided solely to satisfy data collection and analysis needs and that are not used in the direct clinical management of the patient; or
(iii) a service that is clearly inconsistent with widely accepted and established standards of care for a particular diagnosis.
(3) Use of in-network providers
If one or more participating providers is participating in a clinical trial, nothing in paragraph (1) shall be construed as preventing a plan or issuer from requiring that a qualified individual participate in the trial through such a participating provider if the provider will accept the individual as a participant in the trial.
(4) Use of out-of-network
Notwithstanding paragraph (3), paragraph (1) shall apply to a qualified individual participating in an approved clinical trial that is conducted outside the State in which the qualified individual resides.
(b) Qualified Individual Defined
For purposes of subsection (a), the term “qualified individual” means an individual who is a participant or beneficiary in a health plan or with coverage described in subsection (a)(1) and who meets the following conditions:
(1) The individual is eligible to participate in an approved clinical trial according to the trial protocol with respect to treatment of cancer or other life-threatening disease or condition.
(A) the referring health care professional is a participating health care provider and has concluded that the individual’s participation in such trial would be appropriate based upon the individual meeting the conditions described in paragraph (1); or
(B) the participant or beneficiary provides medical and scientific information establishing that the individual’s participation in such trial would be appropriate based upon the individual meeting the conditions described in paragraph (1).
(c) Limitations on Coverage
This section shall not be construed to require a group health plan, or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage, to provide benefits for routine patient care services provided outside of the plan’s (or coverage’s) health care provider network unless out-of-network benefits are otherwise provided under the plan (or coverage).
(d) Approved Clinical Trial Defined
(1) In general
In this section, the term “approved clinical trial” means a phase I, phase II, phase III, or phase IV clinical trial that is conducted in relation to the prevention, detection, or treatment of cancer or other life-threatening disease or condition and is described in any of the following subparagraphs:
(A) Federally funded trials.—The study or investigation is approved or funded (which may include funding through in-kind contributions) by one or more of the following:
(i) The National Institutes of Health.
(ii) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(iii) The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.
(iv) The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
(v) A cooperative group or center of any of the entities described in clauses (i) through (iv) or the Department of Defense or the Department of Veterans Affairs.
(vi) A qualified non-governmental research entity identified in the guidelines issued by the National Institutes of Health for center support grants.
(vii) Any of the following if the conditions described in paragraph (2) are met:
(I) The Department of Veterans Affairs.
(II) The Department of Defense.
(III) The Department of Energy.
(B) The study or investigation is conducted under an investigational new drug application reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration.
(C) The study or investigation is a drug trial that is exempt from having such an investigational new drug application.
(2) Conditions for Departments
The conditions described in this paragraph, for a study or investigation conducted by a Department, are that the study or investigation has been reviewed and approved through a system of peer review that the Secretary determines—
(A) to be comparable to the system of peer review of studies and investigations used by the National Institutes of Health, and
(B) assures unbiased review of the highest scientific standards by qualified individuals who have no interest in the outcome of the review.
(e) Life-threatening Condition Defined
In this section, the term “life-threatening condition” means any disease or condition from which the likelihood of death is probable unless the course of the disease or condition is interrupted.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit a plan’s or issuer’s coverage with respect to clinical trials.
(g) Application to FEHBP
Notwithstanding any provision of chapter 89 of title 5, this section shall apply to health plans offered under the program under such chapter.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, nothing in this section shall preempt State laws that require a clinical trials policy for State regulated health insurance plans that is in addition to the policy required under this section.