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Proton therapy expansion under current United States reimbursement models

Proton therapy expansion under current United States reimbursement models

International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 89(2): 235-240

To determine whether all the existing and planned proton beam therapy (PBT) centers in the United States can survive on a local patient mix that is dictated by insurers, not by number of patients. We determined current and projected cancer rates for 10 major US metropolitan areas. Using published utilization rates, we calculated patient percentages who are candidates for PBT. Then, on the basis of current published insurer coverage policies, we applied our experience of what would be covered to determine the net number of patients for whom reimbursement is expected. Having determined the net number of covered patients, we applied our average beam delivery times to determine the total number of minutes needed to treat that patient over the course of their treatment. We then calculated our expected annual patient capacity per treatment room to determine the appropriate number of treatment rooms for the area. The population of patients who will be both PBT candidates and will have treatments reimbursed by insurance is significantly smaller than the population who should receive PBT. Coverage decisions made by insurers reduce the number of PBT rooms that are economically viable. The expansion of PBT centers in the US is not sustainable under the current reimbursement model. Viability of new centers will be limited to those operating in larger regional metropolitan areas, and few metropolitan areas in the US can support multiple centers. In general, 1-room centers require captive (non-PBT-served) populations of approximately 1,000,000 lives to be economically viable, and a large center will require a population of >4,000,000 lives. In areas with smaller populations or where or a PBT center already exists, new centers require subsidy.

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Accession: 055260508

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 24685152

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2014.02.014

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