JUN 10, 2019 2:56 PM PDT

How the Affordable Care Act Impacts Some Cancer Treatments

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), AKA “Obamacare”, expanded insurance coverage in several ways. The health law has likely had some modest effects on cancer treatment, recent studies show. A group of these studies was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago in June 2019. The Wall Street Journal reports that notable studies researched the act’s effect on timely uterine cancer treatment and racial disparities in cancer treatment.

The ACA broadens the scope of the government Medicaid program for lower-income people in many states and gives subsidies for individual health care plans, among other offerings. Some of its original components have been altered or eliminated through legislation or court challenges.

U.S. President Barack Obama and form icon, public domain

Oncologist and ASCO President Dr. Monica Bertagnolli said the recent research suggests “patients who have better health care coverage have better access to care, get diagnosed sooner, get started on treatment sooner.”

One study from Johns Hopkins University’s department of gynecology and obstetrics explored the rates of diagnosis of earlier-stage ovarian cancer and the start of treatment within 30 days of diagnosis. It relied on data on more than 70,000 patients in the National Cancer Database. The researchers discovered a 1.7 percent improvement in early-stage ovarian-cancer diagnosis for women under 65 and a 1.6 percent gain in the initiation of treatment within 30 days of diagnosis. Lead author Dr. Anna Jo Smith commented that the ACA likely improved patients’ access to primary-care doctors, which can help in the early-stage detection of subtle cancer warning signs.

Another study examined racial disparities in diagnosis and care for several cancers in relation to the ACA and Medicaid expansion. The study found the rate of white people starting cancer treatment within 30 days of diagnosis rose to 43.1 percent after Medicaid expansion in 2014. It was previously 41.8 percent. The rates for African-Americans rose from 39.1 percent to 44.3 percent.

A related trend is the racial imbalances in cancer rates, which are longstanding and well-documented. The 2019 Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer revealed a continuing racial and ethnic disparity in cancer incidence and deaths. It found black men and women had the highest cancer death rates, “both for all cancer sites combined and for about half of the most common cancers in men and women.”

Sources: The Wall Street Journal , Food Educator

 

About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 04, 2020
Cancer
Building a New Chemotherapy Drug
NOV 04, 2020
Building a New Chemotherapy Drug
For decades, modern medicine has relied on chemists’ work to produce compounds that could one day be used as a dru ...
NOV 14, 2020
Cancer
New intravenous anti-cancer therapy crosses blood-brain barrier
NOV 14, 2020
New intravenous anti-cancer therapy crosses blood-brain barrier
New research from the University of Michigan reports for the first time a new synthetic protein nanoparticle that is abl ...
DEC 22, 2020
Cancer
No increased risk of contracting COVID-19 for head and neck cancer patients
DEC 22, 2020
No increased risk of contracting COVID-19 for head and neck cancer patients
New research published online in CANCER brings a sigh of relief for patients with head and neck cancer. The findings, pu ...
DEC 25, 2020
Immunology
A High-Fat Diet Starves Immune Cells, Tumor Growth Goes Unchecked
DEC 25, 2020
A High-Fat Diet Starves Immune Cells, Tumor Growth Goes Unchecked
  Sitting down to enjoy an indulgent Christmas feast? A recent study in mice by Harvard Medicine scientists found t ...
JAN 04, 2021
Cancer
The most diverse genetic analysis of prostate cancer to date
JAN 04, 2021
The most diverse genetic analysis of prostate cancer to date
Racial health disparities are glaringly obvious in the case of prostate cancer where the risk level is roughly 75% highe ...
JAN 18, 2021
Cancer
An "E-Nose" Could Help Doctors Diagnose Breast Cancer and Its Subtypes
JAN 18, 2021
An "E-Nose" Could Help Doctors Diagnose Breast Cancer and Its Subtypes
Breast cancer is one of the most well-studied cancers in modern medicine. Diagnostics can already differentiate between ...
Loading Comments...