Cancer treatments

Medicare will now cover a costly cell therapy for cancer patients

A lab tech handles a CliniMACS Prodigy automated device used for cell processing
A lab tech handles a CliniMACS Prodigy automated device used for cell processing. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy has been hailed as a major advance in clinical cancer care. Photo: GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced yesterday that Medicare will cover the innovative but expensive cancer treatment CAR-T, providing "consistent and predictable patient access nationwide," CMS administrator Seema Verma said.

By the numbers: The treatment, which is customized for each individual patient, costs $375,000 or $475,000, depending on the type of cancer, the Washington Post notes. The overall cost can rise by hundreds of thousands of dollars when hospital stays are factored in.

Cancer costs wallop employers

Cancer is the main source of catastrophically high medical claims for companies and their employees, according to new data from stop-loss insurer Sun Life.

Why it matters: Self-funded employers, or those that directly pay for their workers’ medical claims, usually buy "stop-loss" coverage to insure themselves from unpredictably costly diagnoses. And cancer has been the highest-cost condition for stop-loss claims every year since 2013.