Background: Next-generation tumor sequencing (NGTS) panels, which include multiple established and novel targets across cancers, are emerging in oncology practice, but lack formal positive coverage by US payers. Lack of coverage may impact access and adoption. This study identified challenges of NGTS coverage by private payers.
Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 14 NGTS experts on potential NGTS benefits, and with 10 major payers, representing more than 125,000,000 enrollees, on NGTS coverage considerations. We used the framework approach of qualitative research for study design and thematic analyses and simple frequencies to further describe findings.
Results: All interviewed payers see potential NGTS benefits, but all noted challenges to formal coverage: 80% state that inherent features of NGTS do not fit the medical necessity definition required for coverage, 70% view NGTS as a bundle of targets versus comprehensive tumor characterization and may evaluate each target individually, and 70% express skepticism regarding new evidence methods proposed for NGTS. Fifty percent of payers expressed sufficient concerns about NGTS adoption and implementation that will preclude their ability to issue positive coverage policies.
Conclusions: Payers perceive that NGTS holds significant promise but, in its current form, poses disruptive challenges to coverage policy frameworks. Proactive multidisciplinary efforts to define the direction for NGTS development, evidence generation, and incorporation into coverage policy are necessary to realize its promise and provide patient access. This study contributes to current literature, as possibly the first study to directly interview US payers on NGTS coverage and reimbursement.
Copyright © 2015 by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.