Press Releases

Monday, September 28, 2020

Highmark Inc. approves new blood test for targeted treatment of non-small cell lung cancer

PITTSBURGH (September 28, 2020) — After two years of study and evaluation, the Highmark Health Plan medical policy team has approved a new kind of blood test that helps oncologists diagnose and treat patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).  Because lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the United States according to the American Cancer Society, this is a significant policy change. Highmark is among the first insurers to approve the Biocept test, a type of liquid biopsy.

When a patient has already been diagnosed with NSCLC, this liquid biopsy test is used to determine which kind of therapies will be used to target cancer cells with specific genetic mutations. A liquid biopsy allows treatment based on a blood test where previously an invasive biopsy would have to be performed.

The research and study the past two years was managed by Highmark Health’s VITAL Innovation Platform. VITAL tests  early-stage health innovations, producing evidence related to patient experience, care, and cost outcomes so that promising health solutions can potentially be adopted by health plans and improve members’ lives.

“This is an example of how Highmark is a leader in many areas and where collaboration has worked really well. The VITAL team worked with the physicians at the Allegheny Health Network and also the Highmark Health Plan team, along with our medical policy vendor, eviCore, to make certain this could work for patients,” said David Webster, M.D., vice president and executive medical director for the Highmark Health Plan. “After several years, the data shows this will help oncologists better target treatment.”

While much of this testing and management took place in western Pennsylvania, Highmark’s medical policy change is effective for all regions, including the core markets that Highmark and its affiliates serve in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware. 

About Highmark Inc.
One of America's leading health insurance organizations and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Highmark Inc. (the Health Plan) and its affiliated health plans (collectively, the Health Plans) work passionately to deliver high-quality, accessible, understandable, and affordable experiences, outcomes, and solutions to customers. As the fourth-largest overall Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated organization, Highmark Inc. and its Blue-branded affiliates proudly cover the insurance needs of more than 5.6 million members in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia. Its diversified businesses serve group customer and individual needs across the United States through dental insurance and other related businesses. For more information, visit 

For more information, contact 

Leilyn Perri
Highmark Health