Aetna Could Face Class-Action Suit Over Proton Therapy Denials

Due to a Jan. 27 federal court order, CVS Health Corp.’s Aetna health insurance division could be the defendant in a class-action lawsuit regarding Aetna’s restrictive coverage decisions in breast and prostate cancer treatment. In a lawsuit filed in Florida district court, a federal judge found that Aetna improperly denied coverage of proton therapy to cancer patients who ultimately had to pay for the treatment out of pocket.

Proton beam radiation therapy (PBRT) is a type of cancer treatment “that uses high-powered energy to treat cancer and some noncancerous tumors,” according to the Mayo Clinic, which also notes that “studies have compared proton radiation and X-ray radiation, so it’s not clear whether proton therapy is more effective at prolonging lives.” The therapy isn’t widely available, although new proton therapy centers are being built in the U.S. and in other countries.

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Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has worked as a journalist since 2011 and has covered health care since 2020. At AIS Health, Peter covers trends in finance, business and policy that affect the health insurance and pharma sectors. For Health Plan Weekly, he covers all aspects of the U.S. health insurance sector, including employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces. In Radar on Drug Benefits, Peter covers the operations of (and conflicts between) pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, with a particular focus on pricing dynamics and market access. Before joining AIS Health, Peter covered transportation, public safety and local government for various outlets in Seattle, his hometown and current place of residence. He graduated with a B.A. from Colby College.

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