Risk Management, Step One: Identify the Actual Risk, Not The Perceived One

Julie Ferguson hosted the 191st edition of the Cavalcade of Risk this week – be sure to check it out!  She opens with a link to a particularly good article about how we tend to worry about all the wrong things.  We worry about being eaten by a shark if we swim in the ocean, but don’t think much about the risk of biking/walking/driving to the ocean in the first place.  Even though most people die in rather mundane ways, it’s the dramatic, high-profile Risk Management, Identify the Actual Risk, Not The Perceived Onedangers that grab our attention.  If we’re really paying attention to risk, we’ll focus more on making the ho-hum aspects of our daily routine safer, and not worry so much about being attacked by a bear while hiking.   Pretty much sums up what risk-management is all about:  first you have to understand the risks!

I liked David Williams’ post about an unintended consequence of the oral chemotherapy parity law in Mass.  In his case, he’s getting a refund of previously paid copays because someone on his plan is using an oral medication that can be prescribed for cancer, although in this case it’s used to treat something else.  But since his plan covers infused chemo with no cost-sharing, the oral medication must also be covered with no cost-sharing.

Colorado is among the 26 states that have oral chemotherapy laws on the books (I would image that all of the rest will within the next few years), and overall, the concept makes perfect sense:  Chemo is chemo, and patients should have access to whatever type of chemo they and their doctors feel will be most successful, without having to consider whether oral chemo will be more expensive.  Oral chemo parity laws might end up saving money in the long run, since they avoid the hospital or clinic fees associated with a traditional multi-hour chemo infusion.  And oral chemo also makes it easier for the patient to carry on with day to day life.  But it would also make sense to have a clause in the law that requires the parity only if the oral medication is actually being used to treat cancer, as opposed to some other use.

About Louise Norris

Louise Norris has been writing about health insurance and healthcare reform since 2006. In addition to the Colorado Health Insurance Insider, she also writes for healthinsurance.org, medicareresources.org, Verywell, Spark by ADP, and Boost by ADP, and Gusto. Follow on twitter and facebook.


  1. I agree, Louise. As long as the medication is being used to treat cancer and not some other condition, this law makes sense. But, in cases like David’s, it’s a bit ridiculous.

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