The limitations of China’s public health system are encouraging millions of people every year to buy private health insurance to secure their family’s access to adequate healthcare. Since 2007, we have been working with insurance companies in parallel to hospitals, laboratories and healthcare networks to develop additional policies that will cover cancer treatment and next-generation diagnostics.

With more than 4.2 million people diagnosed with the disease every year, cancer is a major public health problem and one of the leading causes of death in China. Most cancer patients in China have to pay for their treatment out of their own pocket, in spite of the government’s efforts to expand healthcare coverage. For some cancer medicines, a full treatment course can cost ten times the average Chinese worker's annual income. Until recently, insurance policies did not adequately fund innovative cancer care, and local insurance companies lacked the information to develop such policies.

We work with local and international insurance companies in China to develop and improve health insurance coverage for cancer treatments and diagnostics. Through our healthcare networks, we have a wealth of information about the costs and usage of innovative cancer treatments. We were able to use this expertise and work with local and international insurance companies in China to develop and improve health insurance coverage for cancer treatments and diagnostics. This enables the development of affordable cancer insurance policies for patients to benefit from the best available treatments, access to hospitals and doctors and cancer education and support.

Adequate funding is only one of the elements needed to improve access to cancer treatments in China. Roche, together with the insurance companies and other stakeholders, also provides patient education programs and conducts awareness campaigns on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment options. We also help to train healthcare professionals by sharing best practices for diagnosing and treating cancer.

The success of our multi-stakeholder approach has provided the basis for our collaboration with Chinese health authorities to reimburse cancer treatments through the public health system, with private insurance companies providing supplementary critical illness insurance.

In 2015, we started a partnership with the Shenzhen Reimbursement Authority and the leading Chinese insurance company Ping An. Shenzhen became the first city in China where all four of our targeted cancer therapies approved in the country - MabThera/Rituxan, Avastin, Herceptin and Tarceva - were reimbursed.

The Shenzhen public-private partnership model demonstrates the value of integrating public and private payer and manufacturer, diversifying funding sources and developing insurance schemes that are tailored to local needs. Based on this success, Roche is expanding the model to include additional cities across China.

Our collaborations in China illustrate how creative approaches can improve access to healthcare. As a result of these initiatives, millions of people now have unprecedented access to innovative cancer treatments and diagnostics.

Currently, we work with more than 20 local and international insurance and reinsurance companies to support the development of many novel cancer insurance products. And we won’t stop there. New opportunities for innovative insurance partnerships are opening up in China and beyond, and the model is being adapted and rolled out in countries around the world, with people now benefiting from comprehensive funding across the globe.

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