Insurance Helps Young People Detect Cancer in Time”“Study

Researchers find young people without coverage are more likely to get advanced cancer diagnoses.

PANORAMA CITY, CA - JANUARY 28: Dr. Jason Greenspan (L) and emergency room nurse Junizar Manansala care for a patient in the ER of Mission Community Hospital where doctors held a press conference outside on a class action lawsuit against the state of California by a coalition of emergency room physicians claiming that without additional funding, the entire emergency healthcare system is on the verge of collapse on January 28, 2009 in Panorama City, California. According to the coalition, the cost of providing emergency room treatment has nearly doubled over the past decade and patient load increased by more than 28 percent while Medi-Cal reimbursements have remained largely unchanged. During that time, 85 California hospitals in California have closed and an additional 55 facilities have shut down their emergency rooms. California now reportedly ranks worst in the nation for access emergency care and last in emergency rooms per capita. California has seven emergency rooms per million people while the national average is 20 emergency rooms per million people. 
National Journal
Clara Ritger
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Clara Ritger
Feb. 25, 2014, 12:05 a.m.

Health in­sur­ance is key to de­tect­ing can­cer be­fore it’s too late, even among young people.

That’s the con­clu­sion of a new Amer­ic­an Can­cer So­ci­ety study that found un­in­sured young adults are up to twice as likely to get late-stage can­cer dia­gnoses than their peers with private in­sur­ance.

The ACS sampled roughly 260,000 Amer­ic­ans ages 15 to 39 who were dia­gnosed with can­cer between 2004 and 2010.

Among the sample, wo­men without in­sur­ance were nearly twice as likely as those with private in­sur­ance to get late-stage dia­gnoses, while un­in­sured men were 1.5 times as likely to re­ceive late-stage can­cer dia­gnoses as their privately in­sured peers. Pa­tients who re­ceive late-stage can­cer dia­gnos­is — ones in which the can­cer is de­tec­ted only after it has spread to mul­tiple parts of the body — are less likely to sur­vive than those who are dia­gnosed earli­er.

Pub­lic-policy ini­ti­at­ives to ex­pand ac­cess to and re­duce the cost of health in­sur­ance — such as the Af­ford­able Care Act — could save lives as can­cer is iden­ti­fied and treated earli­er for newly in­sured pa­tients, ACS re­search­ers ar­gue.

“The Af­ford­able Care Act, with its fo­cus on in­creas­ing private in­sur­ance cov­er­age of young adults and provid­ing cer­tain can­cer screen­ings at no cost to pa­tients, has the po­ten­tial to make a big im­pact on this age group,” ACS Dir­ect­or of Health Ser­vices Re­search An­thony Rob­bins said in a press re­lease. Rob­bins is the lead au­thor of the study.

Un­in­sured pa­tients were young­er, more likely to be male, more likely to be black or His­pan­ic, and more likely to reside in the South, ac­cord­ing to the study. The re­search­ers also found that minor­it­ies were more likely to have ad­vanced can­cer at the time of dia­gnos­is.

While hav­ing private in­sur­ance in­creased the like­li­hood that can­cer would be caught early, Medi­care and Medi­caid pa­tients were found to have about the same res­ults as un­in­sured pa­tients, troub­ling stat­ist­ics for poli­cy­makers as they look to ex­pand ac­cess to the pro­grams across the coun­try. More re­search must be done to con­firm those find­ings, the ACS said, as some pa­tients be­come newly and ret­ro­act­ively eli­gible for those pro­grams be­cause of a can­cer dia­gnos­is.

The find­ings are con­sist­ent with pri­or ACS re­search on the link between in­sur­ance status and can­cer dia­gnoses, which has found that pa­tients without in­sur­ance have a high­er like­li­hood of ad­vanced can­cer dia­gnos­is among the whole adult pop­u­la­tion and high­er like­li­hood of ad­vanced breast can­cer among wo­men.

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