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HomeHealth & FitnessMedicaid coverage gap • Affordable Care Act • American Cancer Society

Medicaid coverage gap • Affordable Care Act • American Cancer Society

According to a study, states that expand Medicaid provide better coverage and care for cancer patients.

A recent study conducted by American Cancer Society researchers has underscored the profound impact of health insurance coverage on cancer patients, revealing significant disparities in outcomes between insured and uninsured individuals. Published last week, the study focused on the influence of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, providing insights into the crucial role insurance plays in cancer care.

The research compared cancer patients in states that expanded Medicaid with those in states that did not undertake such expansion efforts. The findings revealed a stark contrast in the outcomes for individuals with insurance coverage compared to those without.

In states that expanded Medicaid, approximately 20% of college- or working-age adults diagnosed with cancer were insured by Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income families and the disabled. Remarkably, only 2% of cancer patients in these states were uninsured as of 2019, the concluding year of the study. In sharp contrast, 8.1% of cancer patients in non-expansion states were uninsured during the same period.

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States such as Oregon, New Mexico, and Kentucky recorded the highest proportions of cancer patients benefitting from Medicaid coverage. Conversely, Texas, followed by Florida and Georgia, had the highest number of people without insurance when diagnosed with cancer among states that did not expand Medicaid.

The study emphasized that Medicaid expansion not only increased cancer screening and early diagnosis but also improved care for cancer patients, contributing to a reduction in racial disparities within this demographic.

Lisa Lacasse, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, emphasized the life-saving impact of Medicaid expansion. Lacasse highlighted that expanded health coverage ensures more individuals have access to healthcare, significantly improving their chances of surviving cancer. In her statement, she emphasized that the expansion of this health insurance program is directly contributing to saving lives.

The study analyzed 6.4 million cancer cases among adults aged 18 to 64, focusing on individuals whose insurance status was known at the time of diagnosis. The comprehensive analysis included data from 48 states and the District of Columbia. Kansas and Minnesota were excluded due to consent issues from state registries or data quality concerns. The study excluded minors and adults aged 65 and older covered by Medicare.

While the study specifically examined Medicaid coverage leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, it did not consider the impact of the pandemic on Medicaid enrollments. During the pandemic, millions of Americans gained Medicaid health insurance, thanks to federal aid provided to states. However, with the conclusion of the public health emergency in 2021, states began reviewing and trimming Medicaid rolls, leading to the removal of over 14 million Americans from the program.

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The study highlights the critical importance of health insurance coverage in ensuring equitable access to cancer care and emphasizes the need for ongoing efforts to address disparities in healthcare access.

This post originally appeared on USA Today

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