Regular visits to a skin specialist before being diagnosed with melanoma cut down the risk of death by as much as 90 percent, a new study reveals.
"This suggests that these patients who do better may be more engaged in their care or have less outside demands distracting from their care," Dr. Eide says. "It's not just about having insurance and having a doctor you see, it may be about being invested and an advocate for your own health. We found that regardless of their cancer stage at diagnosis, these patients who saw more specialists and had compliance with their fasting lipid panels and other screenings had a better prognosis. This may suggest a role for the patient in improving their health by being engaged and prioritizing their care."
With health care under transformation from the Affordable Care Act, more patients than ever before will have access to care covered by insurance including preventive services without copays. However, having access to care is not the same as using the care available in the community.
In 2012, the percentage of people who had a usual place to go for medical care was 85.8 percent compared to 86.8 percent in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2012 National Health Review Survey. The survey also found that 6.2 percent of the population failed to obtain medical care due to cost.
"As we have more and more patients becoming insured through opportunities with the Affordable Care Act," Dr. Eide says, "we now have the burden going from not having insurance, to not using the insurance, to not seeking care. The patients in our study all had insurance and in theory all had the same equal opportunities for care. But they received different degrees of care. Some of that may have been at their direction. That is important, perhaps, with cancer prognosis."