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Health Insurance Coverage Disruption Impedes Cancer Care

Findings consistent across cancer continuum, from screening to treatment and end-of-life care

cancer patient

THURSDAY, May 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Disruptions in health insurance coverage are common and are associated with poorer cancer care and survival, according to a review published online April 27 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

K. Robin Yabroff, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to identify studies of health insurance coverage disruptions and cancer care and outcomes published between 1980 and 2019.

Based on 29 included studies, the researchers reported that coverage disruptions were studied for impact on prevention or screening (31.0 percent), treatment (13.8 percent), end-of-life care (10.3 percent), stage at diagnosis (44.8 percent), and survival (20.7 percent). For patients age-eligible for breast, cervical, or colorectal cancer screening, coverage disruptions occurred for 4.3 to 32.8 percent of individuals. Medicaid coverage was gained only at or after cancer diagnosis for 22.1 to 59.5 percent of patients covered by Medicaid. There were significant associations between coverage disruptions and lower receipt of prevention, screening, and treatment. Compared with cancer patients without disruptions, Medicaid disruptions were associated with a significantly greater likelihood of having advanced-stage cancer (odds ratios, 1.2 to 3.8) and worse survival (hazard ratios, 1.28 to 2.43).

"Our findings were consistent across multiple cancer sites, with several studies finding a 'dose-response' relationship, meaning the longer the disruption, the worse the care," Yabroff said in a statement. "The consistency of these findings across the cancer control continuum in our review highlights how important it is to minimize breaks in health insurance coverage to address cancer disparities and promote health equity."

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