More than a half dozen large private health insurance companies have agreed to cover the cost of navigators who guide cancer patients and their families through the confusing array of medical appointments and drug treatments that follow a diagnosis.

The expansion of the cancer navigator program, part of President Joe Biden's ambitious Cancer Moonshot, is among a handful of health initiatives unveiled this week to coincide with the president's State of the Union address.

Advocates say navigators help guide patients and their families through medical appointments and choices they face after a cancer diagnosis. Administration officials cited research that found navigators help reduce how long people wait between diagnosis and treatment. Patients are also more likely to complete treatment when they work with a navigator.

Beginning this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced it would cover navigation services for older Americans on Medicare. The agency also established billing codes for hospitals and doctors to bill health insurance companies for navigator services.

The Biden administration announced that seven large private health insurance companies have agreed to cover navigator services: Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Elevance Health, Health Alliance Plan, Humana, Priority Health and Select Health.

In addition, 40 cancer care centers and clinics will extend navigator services to patients. The list includes high-profile cancer care centers such as Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, the Duke Cancer Institute, Northwell Health and the Mayo Clinic.

"This is about making sure that a growing number of Americans can get access as they need it," Arati Prabhakar, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, told USA TODAY. "The companies that have signed up to provide insurance coverage for these services ... reach 150 million Americans."

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