A recent study shows that insurance coverage of patients with cancer varies significantly by demographics and type of cancer.
The study, published online April 27 in the journal CANCER, looked at 688, 794 patients with cancer ages 18 to 64 who were diagnosed with one of the top 25 incident cancers between 2007 and 2010. The patients, who represented 95% of cancer diagnoses during that period, were noted as either having non-Medicaid insurance, Medicaid or no coverage.
Researchers found that in high poverty counties and rural areas, individuals who were younger, nonwhite and unmarried were less likely to have health insurance. Male patients also were less likely to have health insurance, as well as patients residing in the South.
Patients with prostate cancer, melanoma of the skin and thyroid cancers were more likely to have nonMedicaid insurance coverage, while cervical cancer, liver cancer and stomach cancer had the lowest rates of nonMedicaid coverage. At the same time, the most prevalent cancers among uninsured patients were lung cancer, colorectal cancer and breast cancer, with lung cancer causing the majority of cancer mortalities in all groups.
“To our knowledge, this is the first study that looks at variation in insurance status according to type of cancer,” Usama Mahmood, MD, an investigator at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston said in a press release. “Both insurance status and type of cancer are affected by demographic factors, and it was interesting to see how each varies with the other. Further research will be required to determine how changes in healthcare coverage impact the presentation, treatment and survival of cancer patients.”
The study offers a perspective on specific populations of cancer patients who need the access the healthcare coverage they would gain under the Affordable Care Act, Mahmood said in the news release.
According to the National Cancer Institute, research on cancer health disparities is crucial to fighting the disease. Among disparities documented by the NCI are a higher incidence of a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer in African-American women versus women of other racial/ethic groups, higher rates of prostate cancer and death among African-American men and higher rates of cervical cancer and death among Hispanic and African-American women.
In addition to Mahmood, the study also was led by Stephen Grant, a medical student at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
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