Obamacare Widened Access to Cancer Care

News Picture: Obamacare Widened Access to Cancer Care

THURSDAY, Oct. 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) — More U.S. cancer patients gained insurance they needed for their care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), completely new research reveals.

Researchers tracked government data on more than 858,000 adults aged 19 to 64 having a first-time cancer diagnosis. The uninsured rate fell via just over 5.7 percent between 2010-2013 to about 3.8 percent in 2014, when the ACA health insurance exchanges as well as Medicaid expansion went into effect, the study found.

Increases in coverage occurred for people with numerous types of cancer, those with early- as well as late-stage disease, as well as among different ethnic/racial groups, the study found.

The finding has real implications for patients, the researchers say, as Congress wrestles having a potential repeal or replacement of Obamacare.

“Policy adjustments which reduce Medicaid funding or weaken protections for individuals with pre-existing condition could be particularly harmful for patients with cancer,” conclude a team led by Aparna Soni, of the business school at Indiana University, in Bloomington.

According to the study, the number of uninsured Americans with cancer fell in 2014 in states which experienced Medicaid expansion due to the ACA. On the different hand, which number didn’t budge in states without Medicaid expansion.

Two hospital administrators agreed which the findings offer insights into future health of Americans with cancer.

The findings, “suggest which the ACA saved lives, especially in those states with Medicaid expansion,” said Dr. Michael Grosso, chief medical officer at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y.

“Future health policy decisions must be undertaken with the understanding which the legislative pen is usually a powerful tool which can save or cost real lives when health care coverage is usually at stake,” he added.

Dr. Theodore Maniatis is usually medical director of the Staten Island University Hospital in completely new York City. He believes there are many barriers to cancer care, especially for lower-income Americans.

“The number of health insurance plans, restrictions, co-pays, deductibles etc. which exist is usually almost unmanageable,” he said. “Doctors’ offices as well as hospitals have difficulties dealing with the different rules as well as regulations of these insurance plans. Patients usually find the idea mind-boggling.”

Rising co-pays as well as deductibles lead to “yearly out-of-pocket expenses [which] for some plans adds up to several thousands of dollars, which makes many healthcare services unaffordable for these individuals.”

For their part, Soni’s team acknowledged certain study limitations. These include use of data via only 13 states as well as tracking outcomes for only one year after the ACA took effect.

The findings appear in a research letter published Oct. 19 from the journal JAMA Oncology.

— Robert Preidt

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Michael Grosso, M.D., chief medical officer, Huntington Hospital, Huntington, N.Y.; Theodore Maniatis, M.D., medical director, Staten Island University Hospital, completely new York City JAMA Oncology, news Discharge, Oct. 19, 2017

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