Ethical Allocation of Proton Therapy and the Insurance Review Process.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to delineate a scoring system to maximize the ethical allocation of proton beam therapy (PBT) and determine what factors are associated with receipt of PBT, including the role of specific insurance providers.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: Our scoring system was developed in collaboration with a multidisciplinary panel of experts. Patients submitted for PBT consideration were assigned a score by committee at a weekly peer-reviewed session at a time when our center was operating at capacity. Univariate analysis and multivariable analysis of initial and final insurance response were performed.
RESULTS: One hundred ninety-seven patients were prospectively reviewed. Ninety-three percent of patients with Medicaid coverage, 88% of patients with Medicare, and 78% of patients with private insurance were ultimately approved for PBT. Median time to final insurance response was 12 days (interquartile range, 9-18 days) for patients who were ultimately denied PBT coverage. Having primary provider C (odds ratio [OR], 14; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.20-1.96; P = .033) or third party providers A (OR, 4.22; 95% CI, 1.71-10.9; P = .002) or B (OR, 5.28; 95% CI, 1.56-17.2; P = .006) was significantly associated with final insurance denial for PBT on univariate analysis. Total score (OR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.67-0.90; P = .002) and having coverage through third party provider A (OR, 24.2; 95% CI, 9.51-68.9; P < .001) were associated with final insurance response on multivariable analysis.
CONCLUSIONS: Our scoring system was significantly associated with receipt of proton beam therapy. Certain insurance providers are less likely to approve PBT for patients, all else being equal. Such a scoring system could be implemented effectively at other PBT facilities, and additional work is needed in ensuring patients with the most to gain from PBT will be approved by their insurance providers.