Newswise — BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The number of newly diagnosed cancer patients who were uninsured fell by one-third in the first year of the Affordable Care Act's implementation, according to research from Indiana University.
The research, published in a research letter by JAMA Oncology, also found significant gains in those covered for treatments of various cancers, among various demographic groups and stages of diagnosis.
The uninsured rate among cancer patients was flat in states without Medicaid expansion before and after 2014, but it declined in 2014 in states with Medicaid expansion, according to the research.
"These findings suggest that the general increase in coverage seen in national ACA analyses extends to this high-risk population," said Aparna Soni, a doctoral candidate in business economics and public policy in the IU Kelley School of Business and the letter's corresponding author.
"Treatment is often unaffordable for uninsured patients, and some studies suggest that expanding insurance coverage could improve cancer-related outcomes," she and her co-authors wrote. "Policy changes that reduce Medicaid funding or weaken protections for individuals with preexisting conditions could be particularly harmful for patients with cancer."
Cancer remains the leading cause of death among Americans ages 19 and 64, the group studied.
Other co-authors of "Changes in Insurance Coverage Among Cancer Patients Under the Affordable Care Act " were Kosali Simon, the Class of 1948 Herman B Wells Endowed Professor in the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs; Lindsay Sabik, associate professor in health policy and management at the University of Pittsburgh; and Benjamin Sommers, associate professor of health policy and economics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. JAMA Oncology is one of the journals of the American Medical Association.
In their study, researchers looked at the percentage of adults who were uninsured at first-time cancer diagnosis.