Health insurance coverage is an important determinant of access to health care. Most people in the U.S. receive health insurance through their employers and many others qualify for government insurance programs like Medicare (generally for those older than 65 years) or Medicaid (for low-income families/individuals). The 2010 Affordable Care Act mandated preventive screening coverage for those who are enrolled in Medicaid and provided support to participating states. A cross-sectional cohort study has now revealed that after Medicaid expansion in 2014, the proportion of patients diagnosed and treated at Commission on Cancer–accredited facilities increased within expansion states and decreased in non-expansion states.
This study evaluated whether the proportion of patients diagnosed with early-stage colorectal cancer (CRC) changed over time within states that expanded Medicaid, compared with non-expansion states. The authors queried the multicenter registry data from the National Cancer Database (2006-2016) and identified a total of 10,289 patients in expansion states and 15,173 patients in non-expansion states. They found:
- A 0.9% annual increase in the number of individuals diagnosed with early-stage CRC in expansion states after 2014
- A 0.8% annual reduction in the number of individuals diagnosed with early-stage CRC in non-expansion states after 2014
- By 2016, the absolute difference in the propensity-adjusted proportion of early-stage CRC was 8.8%
Similarly, a study published in the Journal of American Surgeons also found that Medicaid expansion has had a notable impact on the diagnoses of early-stage CRC compared to non-expansion states.
Improved insurance coverage following Medicaid expansion may have facilitated access to screenings and earlier diagnoses.
For more information on insurance coverage for CRC screening, please visit: Insurance Coverage for Colorectal Cancer Screening.
Kitty Chiu is a Colorectal Cancer Prevention Intern with the Colon Cancer Foundation.