New Chemotherapy and Cancer Treatment Cost Calculator Launched to Help Estimate Expenses
SINGAPORE – A new Chemotherapy and Cancer Treatment Cost Calculator was launched on Friday August 19 to help patients estimate their expenses, in light of upcoming changes to the Ministry of Health (MOH) cancer insurance model .
From next month, only clinically proven, cost-effective drug treatments on a new cancer drug list will be eligible for claims under MediSave and MediShield Life, as part of efforts to contain soaring cancer treatment costs .
“This means that each drug now has specific individual claim limits and its eligibility for subsidies would depend on the reasons for its prescription,” said Dr. Jen Wei Ying, associate consultant in the Department of Hematology-Oncology at the University Institute. National Cancer Society, Singapore (NCIS).
“Grants will also be determined by the patient’s per capita household income, eligibility for other government programs, and residency status,” she said.
Also, because most cancer drugs are prescribed in combination, only one claim can be made – and that would be the drug with the highest claim limit. This makes out-of-pocket expense estimates and financial advice more complex for patients who are prescribed drug combinations with varying claim limits, she noted.
Costs incurred during cancer treatment, such as the cost of anti-nausea drugs, would from September have a separate reimbursement limit, she added.
So a team from NCIS and local artificial intelligence-based health tech startup Bot MD have developed a cost calculator – known as ChemoCalc – to estimate the cost of treating a patient and provide financial advice.
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Bot MD, Dorothea Koh, said various programs – including the Cancer Drug List, drug subsidy programs like the Drug Assistance Fund and the Standard Drug List, as well that the Pioneer and Merdeka Generation programs – have been integrated into the calculator.
All NCIS personnel will have access to the calculator through an app or web browser.
Doctors can use the calculator to get an idea of patient costs and decide on treatment options and next course of action, such as referring patients to medical social workers, Dr. Jen said.
The calculator will be updated alongside national revisions and price revisions to ensure the estimated costs match the actual amounts patients are expected to pay, Ms Koh said.
ChemoCalc can also be adapted for use in other healthcare settings.
NCIS is looking to develop a version of the tool for patients, Dr. Jen said.