Does insurance pay for care associated with participation in a research study?

Some insurance companies do refuse to pay for care associated with participation in research studies. Medicare has specific rules about what types of studies they will reimburse for. Our Illinois CancerCare Financial Counselors are a great resource for this information. We recommend that you allow our Financial Counselors to review your insurance coverage rules or speak to your insurance carrier regarding any participation in a research study, rather than contacting the insurance carrier yourself.

A large number of our research studies are looking for patients at the time of their initial cancer diagnosis and some studies are for patients later in their cancer journey. Research as a last resort is an unfortunate myth. We encourage all of our patients to ask their doctor if there is a clinical trial available.

The health of millions has been improved because of advances in science and technology, and the willingness of thousands of individuals like you to take part in clinical research. The role of volunteer subjects as partners in clinical research is crucial in the quest for knowledge that will improve the health of future generations. Without your help, the research studies cannot be accomplished.

Clinical studies are research studies in which real people participate as volunteers. Clinical research studies (sometimes called trials or protocols) are a means of developing new treatments and medications for diseases and conditions. There are strict rules for clinical trials, which are monitored by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some of the research studies at Illinois CancerCare involve promising new treatments that may directly benefit patients.

Randomization is when two or more alternative treatments are selected by chance, not by choice. The treatment chosen is given with the highest level of professional care and expertise, and the results of each treatment are compared. Analyses are done at intervals during a trial, which may last years. As soon as one treatment is found to be definitely superior, the trial is stopped. In this way, the fewest number of patients receive the less beneficial treatment.

Risks are involved in clinical research, as in routine medical care and activities of daily living. The specific risks associated with any research protocol are described in detail in the consent document, which you are asked to sign before taking part in research. In addition, the major risks of participating in a study will be explained to you by a member of the research team, who will answer your questions about the study. Although you may not receive any direct benefit as a result of participating in research, the knowledge developed may help others.

Placebos are harmless, inactive substances made to look like the real medicine used in the clinical trial. Placebos allow the investigators to learn whether the medicine being given works better or no better than ordinary treatment. If a placebo is part of a study, you will always be informed in the consent form given to you before you agree to take part in the study.