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Financial Barriers to Oral Cancer Therapies — [Vodcast] Ep 19

October 19, 2022

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Oral cancer therapies for breast cancer offer many benefits such as convenience and effectiveness, but also can add financial burden. CANCER BUZZ spoke to Aimee Hoch, LSW, MSW, Oncology Financial Navigator at Grandview Health in Sellersville, PA. Hear as our expert discusses how and when to screen patients, and then connect them to available resources to better support patients’ financial needs. This is the final episode of a four-part series.


Aimee Hoch, LSW, MSW
Oncology Financial Navigator
Grandview Health
Sellersville, PA

“We like to focus on the cost of medication first, then zero in on the whole picture, such as what are the other out of pocket costs or copays.” –Aimee Hoch, LSW, MSW

Related Content:

This is the final video podcast in a series from the “Addressing Challenges in Oral Therapies for HR+, HER2- Breast Cancer” education program.

Funding and support provided by Lilly Oncology. VV-OTHR-US-DEL-0876 © Lilly USA, LLC 2022. All rights reserved.

©2022. Association of Community Cancer Centers. All rights reserved. No part of this production may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission.


CANCER BUZZ: Welcome back to CANCER BUZZ TV. I'm your host, Summer Johnson. This is the final episode of a four-part series on oral therapies for HR+, HER2- breast cancer. Today we're looking at financial barriers to oral anti-cancer therapies, and how cancer care teams are taking a multi-disciplinary approach to help patients get access to these treatments. Our guest today is Aimee Hoch, an Oncology Financial Navigator at Grandview Health in Sellersville, Pennsylvania.

Thank you for joining us today, Aimee. Let's get right into it. Can you talk about some of the financial Barriers that patients may face when trying to access oral therapies?

Aimee Hoch, LSW, MSW: So the cost of the medication is often the primary barrier, and then what I also like to look at and assess is, you know, what other barriers are they facing their income level, other copays that they're facing for other parts of their treatment plan or other supportive services or therapies that they're receiving. So it's kind of looking at the whole picture, but it's mainly that cost of medication that we focus on first. Again, then kind of zeroing in on the whole entire picture as well.

CANCER BUZZ: What's your approach for assessing whether a patient is facing these kinds of barriers?

Aimee Hoch, LSW, MSW: Sure. So I like to meet the patient or start screening the patient as early on as possible, as close to them receiving their diagnosis. And then what I do is knowing their diagnosis, and in this case we're talking about breast cancer, their type of insurance, their income is also important to know whether they're working or if they're on a fixed income and they're retired or if they don't have a current income. That allows me to assess whether they're eligible for certain programs.

And then after knowing their diagnosis and getting some more information back from the treatment team, I can generally have an understanding of what treatment the doctor may prescribe. Kind of keeping that in the back of my mind from experience. Of course, that can vary, and the doctor may change something based on testing that they might get back, but just having that background knowledge, I am starting to then work with the patient. Because, in general, they think that they have insurance so their treatment is going to be covered, right?

But from my experience, I know some of these oral therapies can be quite costly for them. So knowing that when the doctor does prescribe the treatment, I can let them know that ‘yes’, there's going to be a cost involved, but these are the programs and resources that I have identified to help you. And just them knowing that I'm there to kind of put those pieces in place. I also like to assess, like for instance, if someone is working, whether or not they're going to be able to work through their treatment, so do they have time off available at work? Do they have Cobra available to them? Is that something that's feasible for them?

CANCER BUZZ: What supports are there for these patients?

Aimee Hoch, LSW, MSW: So some of the things I put in place for patients, I start out generally with their diagnosis, what type of insurance they have, and then there could be programs that I put in place through manufacturers of the medications, through outside foundations. So it all depends on first the diagnosis and their type of insurance, and I kind of go from there and put those programs in support of resources in place.

CANCER BUZZ: What do you suggest for teams that don't have funding for dedicated financial navigation staff?

Aimee Hoch, LSW, MSW: Sure. So if there is a cancer center that doesn't have a dedicated financial navigator or financial advocate, it generally the treatment team would generally access the social worker or the patient may access the social worker and that social worker could start to get some training in financial advocacy, either through the ACCC Boot Camps. We have a Financial Advocacy Playbook that helps with onboarding new financial advocates.

There are other trainings available for financial navigators and advocates so they could start building those skills and knowing those programs that are available to those patients.

CANCER BUZZ: Aimee, how does your team use the ACCC Patient Assistance and Reimbursement Guide?

Aimee Hoch, LSW, MSW: Yeah, so I generally use that tool myself. In January of 2022, it went to a digital format, which was nice. The Financial Advocacy Network launched that, and so it's a searchable tool that I can keep right up on my desktop and plug in names of medications. It also gives me information about manufacturers and different other foundations that might be available to the patient.

CANCER BUZZ: Thank you, Aimee. If you'd like to learn more about helping patients access oral anti-cancer therapies, you can look for links in the show notes. This show is a resource of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) developed for busy cancer professionals to stay up to date on the latest trends in cancer care. And this episode was made possible through funding and support provided by Lilly Oncology. On behalf of all of us here at CANCER BUZZ TV, thank you for watching. I'm Summer Johnson.


The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s)/faculty member(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of their employer(s) or the Association of Community Cancer Centers.