How you feel about access to health care probably says a lot about your politics. When the Affordable Care Act was being debated, 61 percent of Democrats favored the law versus only 12 percent of Republicans.(1)
How are your thoughts on health care? Is it a privilege for those who can afford it or a human right? Should everyone have the same access to care? Do you think everyone already does?
Two recent studies have shown that a person’s insurance status is predictive of their health outcomes after a cancer diagnosis.(2)
Being uninsured or on Medicaid resulted in cancer patients being diagnosed at a later stage, receiving suboptimal treatments and dying sooner.(2)
These latest studies used population-based data from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and focused on two types of cancer: testicular germ cell tumors and glioblastoma (a type of brain cancer.)
The testicular cancer study team identified 10,211 men diagnosed with testicular cancer between 2007 and 2011.
The researchers found that compared to patients with insurance, those who were uninsured or on Medicaid:(2)
- Had a higher chance of having larger tumors or metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis.
- Were more likely to die of the disease.
- Those with metastatic cancer were more likely have their cancer categorized as “intermediate” or “poor” risk.
- Those with early stage cancer were less likely to have lymph nodes removed, a procedure that can cure some patients.
Patients with advanced cancer who were uninsured but not on Medicaid were less likely to receive radiation.(2)
"Our findings support the belief that early diagnosis and management is key, and removal of barriers to access to health care should be implemented,” wrote lead researcher Dr. Christopher Sweeney.
The second study evaluated glioblastoma outcomes.
1) From the very start, sharp partisan divisions over Obamacare. PewResearch.org. Retrieved September 22, 2016.
2) Studies show insurance status may impact patients' health outcomes following cancer. news-medical.net. Retrieved September 22, 2016.
3) NCI Dictionary of Terms. cancer.gov. Retrieved September 22, 2016.