Researchers have discovered that young people who are covered are receiving earlier diagnoses.
According to the results of a study by the American Cancer Society, young people who do not have health insurance are up to two times more likely to receive a diagnosis of cancer that is in its later stages than their covered peers.
Early detection is the most important factor in improving the chances of cancer survival.
The American Cancer Society’s study included the data from approximately 260,000 Americans between the ages of 15 and 39, who had received a diagnosis of some form of cancer between the years 2004 and 2010. Among them, the women who did not have health insurance had twice the likelihood of a late stage diagnosis as those who had some form of private coverage. Similarly, men were 1.5 times more likely to receive a late stage diagnosis of cancer than their peers who had a coverage plan.
This suggests that people who have health insurance have a better chance at cancer survival.
Late stage cancer is a form that has been detected only once it has spread to other parts of the body, beyond its original source. Diagnoses of this level of the disease come with a lower likelihood of survival than those that involve earlier stages.
According to the researchers from the American Cancer Society, initiatives in public policy that work to broaden access while shrinking the cost of health plans – for instance, the Affordable Care Act – could potentially help to save the lives of cancer patients, as it will help them to receive an earlier diagnosis and treatment can begin sooner.
Anthony Robbins, the director of health services research at the American Cancer Society, said that “The Affordable Care Act, with its focus on increasing private insurance coverage of young adults and providing certain cancer screenings at no cost to patients, has the potential to make a big impact on this age group.”
The research pointed out that patients without health insurance tended to be younger, male, lived in the south of the country, and were either black or Hispanic. They also found that people in minority groups had a notably greater likelihood of an advanced cancer diagnosis.