09:49am Sunday 22 October 2017

Health Insurance Coverage among Cancer Patients Varies Greatly by Demographics and Cancer Type

In the United States, an estimated 48 million individuals live without health insurance. To examine how insurance coverage differs among cancer patients according to various individual factors such as age, gender, and race, as well as according to different cancer types, Usama Mahmood, MD, an investigator at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and Stephen Grant, a medical student at Baylor College of Medicine, led a team that analyzed information from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, which compiles incidence and survival data from population-based cancer registries in the United States. Their analysis included 688,794 patients age 18 to 64 years who were diagnosed with one of the top 25 cancers between 2007 and 2010.

The researchers found that younger, non-White, unmarried patients residing in counties with higher levels of poverty and in rural areas were less likely to have insurance. Moreover, males were less likely to have insurance than females, and people residing in Southern states were less likely to have insurance than people residing in other areas of the country. Also, there was large variation in insurance rates by cancer type, with the highest uninsured rates in testicular, stomach, and cervical cancers, and the lowest uninsured rates in thyroid, prostate, and breast cancers. Among all uninsured patients, however, the most prevalent cancers were lung cancer (which also resulted in the greatest number of cancer deaths), colorectal cancer, and breast cancer.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study that looks at variation in insurance status according to type of cancer,” said Dr. Mahmood. “Both insurance status and type of cancer are affected by demographic factors, and it was interesting to see how each varies with the other.” Dr. Mahmood added that the study provides insights into which subsets of cancer patients will likely benefit the most from the expansion of health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. “Further research will be required to determine how changes in health care coverage impact the presentation, treatment, and survival of cancer patients,” he said.

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Article: Variation in insurance status by patient demographics and tumor site among non-elderly adult cancer patients.” Stephen R. Grant, Gary V. Walker, B. Ashleigh Guadagnolo, Matthew Koshy, Pamela K. Allen, and Usama Mahmood. CANCER; Published Online: April 27, 2015 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.29120).

URL: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/cncr.29120

Author Contact: Katrina Burton of the MD Anderson external communications department at +1 (713) 792-8034 or kburton@mdanderson.org.

CANCER is a peer-reviewed publication of the American Cancer Society integrating scientific information from worldwide sources for all oncologic specialties. The objective of CANCER is to provide an interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of information among oncologic disciplines concerned with the etiology and course of human cancer. CANCER is published by Wiley and can be accessed online at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/cancer.

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