Clinical Trials: What You Need to Know

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What about cost? Will my insurance cover it?

It’s important to get insurance and cost questions answered before deciding to take part in a clinical trial. In the past, insurers were sometimes reluctant to pay for any of the costs of care given in a clinical trial. Their concern was that they’d be paying for treatments that had not been proven to work. Some health insurance plans also defined the care given in a clinical trial as “experimental” or “investigational” and didn’t want to cover the costs of what was really routine care – care that you would have needed even if you were not taking part in a clinical trial.

When insurers do cover costs related to clinical trials, it’s usually only for tests, treatments, or doctor’s visits that would have been part of your treatment plan if you weren’t taking part in a study. In other words, they aren’t required to pay for special tests or treatments you need just because you’re in the study.

In most cases, when a patient volunteers for and enrolls in a clinical trial, the study sponsor provides the new treatment at no cost and pays for any special tests, procedures, or extra doctor visits. The sponsor of the clinical trial may be a government agency such as the National Cancer Institute, a drug company, biotechnology company, or some other agency. Some sponsors may pay for more; for example, some may offer to pay you back for travel time and mileage. It’s important to find out what will be paid for before you enter the study.


Last Medical Review: 09/25/2014
Last Revised: 10/31/2014