Study: ACA resulted in fewer uninsured cancer survivors

According to a new study, the percentage of uninsured cancer survivors decreased by 4.7 percentage points after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The study, published in the March issue of Medical Care, found the rate of cancer survivors without insurance decreased from 12.4 to 7.7 percent, which translated into a 38 percent relative decrease in the percentage uninsured after the landmark healthcare act was put into place.

"ACA implementation was associated with large coverage gains in targeted expansion groups, including cancer survivors, but additional progress is needed," wrote Amy J. Davidoff, PhD with the Yale School of Public Health and colleagues.

Data was taken from the National Health Interview Survey—a nationally representative survey—before implementation (2012-13) and after (2014-15). Nearly 93,000 adults under age 65 were included in the data sets, about 4,000 of them had a history of some form of cancer.

Authors point out the largest reduction in uninsured rate of 16.7 percent was seen in cancer survivors who were eligible for Medicaid expansion under the ACA. Also of note was the 11.3 percentage point decrease in uninsured rates among cancer survivors who were eligible for premium subsidies and an 8.4 percentage point decrease among those who were eligible for Medicaid before the ACA.

While results of the analysis demonstrate significant improvements in policy-related cancer care, study authors maintain there is still much room for improvement in aiding those with a cancer diagnosis.

“Evidence from previous adult coverage expansions, and early evidence from the ACA coverage provisions suggest important and potentially lifesaving shifts to earlier stage cancer diagnoses, improved access to cancer treatment, and better surveillance and survivorship care,” wrote Davidoff et al. “Given the potentially longer term time frame to observe some health benefits, it is essential to monitor the ongoing effects of health care reform on insurance coverage and impacts on cancer stage at diagnosis, treatment and outcomes and to continue to explore ways to improve cancer care.”