Mountain Enterprises is a forward thinking California corporation that decided to help better protect their employees’ health by providing screening examinations to detect early developing melanoma and other skin cancers.
Treating an employee for a diagnosed melanoma or other skin cancer in many cases relies on what are known as “surrogate endpoints”. These apply and measure the success of a treatment not looking at “primary endpoints” like overall survival rates and costs* associated with treatment. This poses a dilemma to both the employer, employee, and their family, especially when the employer is self-insured.
Total disease specific health care costs, while easy to calculate, at times can represent a Black Swan event for any company. These costs are sometimes deductible / co-pay unfriendly and impossible to predict or calculate. Adding to this difficulty is lost productivity, emotional burdening and overall quality of life for the employee.
*The annual cost of treating skin cancers in the U.S. is estimated at $8.1 billion: about $4.8 billion for nonmelanoma skin cancers and $3.3 billion for melanoma.
*Guy GP, Machlin SR, Ekwueme DU, Yabroff KR. Prevalence and costs of skin cancer treatment in the U.S., 2002-2006 and 2007-2011. Am J Prev Med 2014.
Skin Cancer Free is using a research collaboration with DermDetect and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to offer fast, efficient, and practical skin cancer examinations for companies to help find early developing skin cancers for their employees.
Catching skin cancer early is an important way to reduce the time and cost required to treat the cancer and improve outcomes. It can be accomplished through effective early skin cancer screening**. This is done by a trained professional photographing a “total body” set of digital images for review by an expert dermatologist using a web based e-consult. Initial base line total body imaging is done at any location that is friendly to the employer’s place of employment and can also be scheduled at a local Regional Care Physician’s office.
**The estimated 5-year survival rate for patients where a melanoma is detected early is about 98 % in the U.S. The survival rate falls to 62 percent when the disease reaches the lymph nodes, and 18 percent when the disease metastasizes to distant organs.
Making sure these examinations can also be done again over time with a high degree of lesion reproducibility can be accomplished using sequential digital imaging – comparing the changes that occur in a lesion over time – using secure cloud storage and retrieval. Sometimes suspicious images need to be followed and accurately tracked for any appearance change, many of which are the only indicator of a more serious skin cancer condition.
More Information: https://skincancerfree.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma
A part of each examination’s cost is also a tax-deductible donation.
J.P. Gomez, Mountain Enterprises, Co-Owner
Why did you want to have your employees and their families screened?
“First, my brothers and I believe in the science of early detection, we have personally invested in many companies involved with such. My people over the years have been very loyal. Some work outdoors in the sun, a necessary hazard of their job. My brothers and I feel our responsibility does not begin and end with just a paycheck – their health and their family’s health are also on our watch.”
Noble statement, but what are the other driving factors?
“We are self-insured and always looking to keep our benefits and coverage high and our premiums low. Bringing our employees into a more self-directed wellness program will only serve to make us a healthier company financially. A catastrophic medical event could tip the balance and impact all workers’ premiums. Their paychecks would get smaller.”
Will you be then screening only the outdoor workers?
“No, all the administrative and support staff, anyone on our health care plan.”
Is this a requirement for employees to participate?
“No, anyone can opt out if they choose. However, we have had no one refuse to be screened.”