(NewsUSA) - UnitedHealthcare and Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) announced a new multi-year agreement that will expand health care options and accessibility for many cancer patients at all four hospitals in the CTCA network.

The new agreement, effective July 1, 2009, provides UnitedHealthcare Options PPO customers access to more than 330 physicians across all four CTCA-affiliated cancer treatment hospitals. CTCA serves patients with complex cancer at hospitals located in Philadelphia and Tulsa and suburban Chicago and Phoenix.

"This is a welcome choice for cancer patients," said Kimberly Perrin of Washington, D.C., a UnitedHealthcare plan participant who is being treated at CTCA. "Cancer patients need increased access to quality cancer care and more options when it comes to choosing a hospital that is right for each of us."

UnitedHealthcare Options PPO customers can call the number on the back of their UnitedHealthcare member identification card to verify they have access to the CTCA hospitals. Cancer patients may also call 888-353-7687 to speak with a CTCA oncology information specialist for access verification.

"This is very good news for consumers across the nation," said Tom Wiffler, president and CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Illinois. "The addition of CTCA to UnitedHealthcare's broad national network gives our customers increased choice, and access to affordable, quality health care."

The agreement is consistent with UnitedHealthcare's longstanding commitment to promote evidence-based decision-making and aims to benefit employers and employees alike by promoting consistent, high-quality care.

"Our new agreement with UnitedHealthcare will enable more patients to access our fully integrated, individualized model of cancer care," said Steve Bonner, president and CEO of CTCA. "At CTCA, we strive to empower patients as advocates and decision-makers. Giving patients and their families more cancer care options extends that commitment to patient empowerment."

"Cancer patients deserve choice, access and quality when it comes to medical decisions; among the most important decisions they'll make in their lives," said Dr. Edgar D. Staren, senior vice president for clinical affairs and chief medical officer at CTCA.