For the first time, employers are waging a comprehensive, coordinated war on cancer through the CEO Cancer Gold Standard, ™ a U.S. initiative that represents a profound corporate commitment to the health of employees and their families. The rigorous requirements of the Gold Standard call for a company to evaluate its benefits and culture and take extensive, concrete actions in five key areas to promote cancer prevention, early detection, and access to quality care for all of its U.S. employees and their dependents, in all U.S. facilities.
Six organizations announce their Gold Standard accreditation today: the American Cancer Society (national home office), AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, and OSI Pharmaceuticals. As many as 20 other employers from academia, banking, health care, insurance, manufacturing, retail, and technology are targeted to receive accreditation by the end of 2007.
“Through our programs, policies, and communications channels, CEOs can do much to encourage healthy living and quality care,” said William C. Weldon, chief executive officer of Johnson & Johnson and chairman of the CEO Roundtable on Cancer, a group of CEOs and business leaders from diverse industries united by a pledge to apply the untapped power of business to fight cancer and save lives. Robert A. Ingram, former CEO and chairman of Glaxo Wellcome, now GlaxoSmithKline, founded the Roundtable in 2001.
The CEO Cancer Gold Standard is the group’s first major initiative and the result of former President George Bush’s challenge to CEOs to do something “bold and venturesome” to defeat cancer. To attain accreditation, employers have had to exceed the scope of typical corporate wellness efforts.
“I called upon CEOs because they are action-oriented people who know how to get things done,” said former President Bush. “By creating the CEO Cancer Gold Standard, they have taken a giant step toward eliminating cancer deaths that are preventable. I now urge chief executives of organizations large and small to take the next step by adopting the Gold Standard, because it certainly will save lives.” The American Cancer Society estimates that at least one-half of deaths from cancer can be prevented.
To become accredited, organizations are required to establish policies prohibiting tobacco use indoors and out, as well as implement tobacco-cessation initiatives. The organizations’ benefit plans must offer coverage for evidence-based counseling and prescription and non-prescription medications for smoking cessation, all at no cost to employees. They must execute similarly comprehensive programs to improve employees’ diet and nutrition, physical activity, use of screenings, and access to quality cancer treatment and clinical trials. Together, the first group of employers reaches approximately 270,000 people.
“In 2006 alone, close to 1.4 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer, and sadly, nearly 565,000 people will die from the disease,1” said Mr. Weldon. “Through the CEO Cancer Gold Standard—with its emphasis on prevention and risk reduction—we will do everything possible to bring those numbers down, starting with our own employees.”
In addition to robbing companies of their greatest resource—their people—cancer cost them more than $118 billion in lost productivity in 200523. and resulted in medical costs five times higher than those for employees without cancer
Employer-covered screenings are a cost effective way to detect cancer early and save lives, according to a study commissioned by C-Change, an organization of cancer leaders, and the American Cancer Society and conducted by the actuarial firm Milliman4. A population of 50,000 employees would experience three to five fewer deaths per year among employees and their dependents if companies invested in certain cancer-screening benefits. On average, an employer would incur a cost of just $2.95 per member per month (PMPM) to increase compliance in breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screenings to fully meet the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, (an independent panel of experts in primary care and prevention that systematically reviews the evidence of effectiveness and develops recommendations for clinical preventive services). One-hundred percent compliance would result in savings of between $2.35 and $3.75 PMPM in medical and non-medical costs, including disability and life insurance and the cost of replacing employees.
The American Cancer Society will play a critical role in helping to raise awareness of the Gold Standard among companies that are not accredited, assist in completion of accreditation submission and provide free or low-cost programs that help companies implement the Gold Standard.
“I’m proud of the role the American Cancer Society played in helping to develop the Gold Standard. This revolutionary concept will improve participating companies’ bottom lines and relationships with their employees, and contribute to the worldwide fight against cancer,” said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., CEO of the American Cancer Society. “Adopting and consistently meeting these standards is, quite simply, the right thing to do.”
“Tobacco-cessation programs are critical for the 45 million Americans who still smoke. Research shows 70 percent of smokers want to quit, but many lack the tools and resources needed to quit successfully. Help from friends, family and employers is critical to their success,” said Cheryl Healton, Dr.P.H., president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation, an organization that works to reduce the deadly toll of tobacco. “Tobacco remains the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 Americans each year. Initiatives such as the Gold Standard can provide smokers with the support they need to quit and stay quit.”
For more information on the CEO Cancer Gold Standard and the accreditation process, call 866-526-7830, a dedicated toll-free number staffed by the American Cancer Society, or visit http://www.cancergoldstandard.org/.