The Love Your Colon initiative was specifically designed to help guide conversations with plan members and employers to:
Raise awareness of colorectal cancer screening
Promote good health
Reduce costs associated with colorectal cancer
“Each year, cancer costs the world more money than any other disease.”
American Institute of Cancer Research1
The costs of colorectal cancer include not only doctors visits, hospital stays, and other medically related expenses, but also the hidden costs associated with colorectal cancer, such as travel and lodging, childcare, lost time from work, and many others.
Promoting regular screening reduces costs associated with colorectal cancer and saves lives.2 And experts agree, screening tests like colonoscopy and fecal occult blood tests save money compared with no screening.3
Communication Opportunities for Payers
Remind members and their employers to take advantage of their plans' available preventive care services.
Raise Awareness of Colorectal Cancer
Emphasize that colorectal cancer is preventable, detectable, and if found early, treatable.2
Continue to Educate
Communicate the differences between preventive and diagnostic services to help clarify circumstances of coverage.
Tips for Engaging With Members
An important barrier to understand when talking to members is the potential for embarrassment. To help members become more open to being screened for colorectal cancer, explain that there are a number of screening options they can discuss with their health care provider.
Explain the Risk
Consider presenting information about the risks for colorectal cancer and how screening has been proven to significantly reduce that risk.
Illustrate the Benefits
Take the time to explain all the services and benefits that the health plan offers to make screening as easy as possible (eg, no co-pay or coinsurance for members between the ages of 50 and 75). Also, encourage members to look into and take advantage of existing total-health or productivity programs in their workplace.
Leverage Additional Channels
Members may be more likely to trust advice that comes from their health care provider or employer than from payers. Encourage health care providers and employers in the plan’s network to be educational advocates for colorectal cancer screening. You can also involve community voices to help build awareness. For example, the Love Your Colon pilot program in South Carolina successfully engaged local barbers and stylists to help spread the word about colorectal cancer screenings.
The Love Your Colon initiative has developed many resources to help implement this program among members. Tools to learn about risk factors for colorectal cancer and available screening tests are available here. Resources specific to payers include templates for a Letter to Health Plan Members and a Letter to Health Plan Providers.
Also, members should know that many health plans have online navigator programs with content about colorectal cancer and the importance of regular screening.
Tips for Engaging With Employers
Demonstrate the Value
Focus on the fact that prevention is critical for both the employee (from a health standpoint) and employer (from a financial/productivity standpoint).
Leverage the Data
Remind employers of the potentially large cost difference between prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer.
Explain the Implications
Highlight the potential emotional impact on employees, and even co-workers who do not have colorectal cancer, to emphasize the importance of screening. Colorectal cancer may lead to absenteeism and a reduction in productivity when an employee, or an employee’s loved one, is diagnosed.
Use the materials provided through the Love Your Colon initiative: these include a variety of downloadable resources that can help build awareness and promote screening and prevention.
You can make a lasting and important difference
in the lives of your members while also helping to reduce costs in the future.
Use your position and relationships to make an impact.
- How much cancer costs. Drug Watch website. https://www.drugwatch.com/2015/10/07/cost-of-cancer/. Accessed January 22, 2018.
- Colorectal cancer screening: basic fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/pdf/basic_fs_eng_color.pdf. Accessed January 22, 2018.
- Patel SS, Kilgore ML. Cost effectiveness of colorectal screening strategies. Cancer Control. https://moffitt.org/File%20Library/Main%20Nav/Research%20and%20Clinical%20Trials/Cancer%20Control%20Journal/v22n2/248.pdf. Accessed January 22, 2018.