The number of cancer diagnoses especially at early stages increased because of the Affordable Care Act in states where medicaid was expanded, reveals a report from Indiana University. The research, published in the American Journal of Public Health, suggests that public health insurance may increase cancer detection, which can lead to fewer cancer deaths and better outcomes for patients.
‘After the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, there was an increase of 15.4 early-stage diagnoses per 100,000 people or 6.4 percent. This paved the way for an overall increase of cancer diagnosis to 3.4 percent in states where Medicaid was expanded.’"Early detection is a key step to reducing cancer mortality, and our findings suggest that Medicaid expansion under the ACA led to more and earlier cancer detection," said the study's corresponding author, Aparna Soni, a doctoral candidate in business economics and public policy in the IU Kelley School of Business.
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Previous research by Soni and her IU co-author, Kosali Simon, the Class of 1948 Herman B Wells Endowed Professor in the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, found that the Affordable Care Act increased insurance coverage among people already diagnosed with cancer.
Other co-authors of "Effect of Medicaid Expansions of 2014 on Overall and Early-Stage Cancer Diagnoses" were Lindsay Sabik, associate professor in health policy and management at the University of Pittsburgh; and John Cawley, professor of policy analysis and management and of economics at Cornell University.
In their study, researchers looked at cancer registry data from 2010 through 2014 to estimate post-ACA changes in county-level cancer diagnosis rates, both overall and by stages, in states that expanded Medicaid in 2014 versus those that did not.
Medicaid expansion led to an increase of 15.4 early-stage diagnoses per 100,000 people, or 6.4 percent, from pre-ACA levels.
"These data indicate increases in health coverage lead to increased early detection, which raises the overall diagnosis rate," Simon said. "Medical research already shows that early cancer diagnosis is important for increasing the probability of successful treatment, reducing mortality and controlling costs. However, Medicaid expansion appears to have no effect on the diagnosis of late-stage cancers."
"The fact that the increase in early-stage diagnoses was concentrated in cancers amenable to screening is consistent with the increase resulting from the expansion of health insurance and access to care," the researchers wrote in the paper.
The increase in overall diagnoses was largely driven by increases among those age 45 to 54 and among those with prostate cancer.