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Young Colon Cancer Patients Have Fared Better Under Obamacare

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FRIDAY, Dec. 20, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Diagnosis and treatment of young adults with colon cancer improved under an Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision permitting young adults up to age 26 to be covered under their parents' insurance, researchers report.

They analyzed outcomes among nearly 2,000 U.S. patients aged 19 to 25 who were diagnosed with colon cancer between 2007 and 2013. The provision under ACA (also known as Obamacare) took effect in 2010.

Those patients were compared with more than 8,000 patients aged 27 to 34 diagnosed with colon cancer during the same period.

Patients aged 19 to 25 who had surgery for stages 2B-3C colon cancer were 34% more likely to also receive chemotherapy after the provision for parental insurance coverage took effect.

Also, the average time from surgery to chemotherapy in this age group decreased by seven days, from 57.4 days to 50.4 days, over the study period.

There were no changes in the comparison group.

Patients aged 19 to 25 are too young to be eligible for routine colon cancer screening, so the findings likely reflect improved access to care that enables timely assessment of early symptoms, according to the American Cancer Society study. It was published Dec. 19 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"Our results have important implications for young adults diagnosed with colorectal cancer who may experience interruptions in their insurance coverage due to loss of dependent coverage or other life transitions," the authors wrote.

"Our findings highlight the role of the ACA in improving access to potentially lifesaving cancer care, including a shift to early-stage diagnosis and more timely receipt of adjuvant chemotherapy," they concluded in an American Cancer Society news release.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on colon cancer.

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, Dec. 19, 2019

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