High prices of targeted anticancer medicines (TAMs) result in financial toxicity for patients and the health insurance system. How national price negotiation and reimbursement policy affect the accessibility of TAMs for cancer patients remains unknown.
In this population-based cohort study, we used national health insurance claims data in 2017 and identified adult patients with cancer diagnoses for which price-negotiated TAMs were indicated. We estimated the half-month prevalence of price-negotiated TAMs use before and after the policy implementation in September 2017. We calculated direct medical costs, out-of-pocket (OOP) costs, and the proportion of OOP cost for each cancer patient to measure their financial burden attributable to TAMs use. We performed segmented linear and multivariable logistic regression to analyse the policy impact.
We included 39 391 of a total 118 655 cancer beneficiaries. After September 2017, the prevalence of price-negotiated TAMs use increased from 1.4%-2.1% to 2.9%-3.1% (P = 0.005); TAMs users' daily medical costs increased from US$261.3 to US$292.5 (P < 0.001), while median daily OOP costs (US$68.2 vs US$65.7; P = 0.134) and OOP costs as a proportion of daily medical costs persisted (28.5% vs 28.5%; P = 0.995). Compared with resident beneficiaries, the relative probability of urban employee beneficiaries on TAMs uses decreased after the policy (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 2.4 vs aOR = 2.2).
The government price negotiation and reimbursement policy improved patient access to TAMs and narrowed disparities among insurance schemes. China's approach to promoting the affordability of expensive medicines provides valuable experience for health policy decision-makers.