Saturday, January 21, 2017

ACA increased colorectal cancer screening

The study’s coauthors are Brett Lissenden, a fifth-year
student in UVA’s economics Ph.D. program, and Aaron
Yao, an assistant professor in the Department of Public
Health Sciences. (Photo by Dan Addison, University
CANCER DIGEST – Jan. 21, 2017 – The Affordable Care Act increased cancer screenings, and especially increased colorectal cancer screenings between 2011 and 2013, say researchers at the University of Virginia.

One of the main goals of the law that came to be known as Obamacare was to reduce healthcare costs in part by increasing coverage for prevention care on the theory that treating certain diseases such as cancer is less expensive when caught early when the disease is more treatable.

The researchers used data collected from the national Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Resutls (SEER) program for patients diagnosed with their first cancer in the period from 2008 to 2013. The data showed 8,400 more seniors were diagnosed with colorectal cancer after 2011,  a year after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law for an 8 percent increase, over the previous two years. The study was published in the January 2017 journal Health Affairs.

The data also showed no increase in the diagnoses of breast cancer. While the study was not designed to compare the two types of screening, researchers Nengliang "Aaron" Yao, PhD and Brett Lissenden, a graduate student in UVA's economics doctoral program suggested that the higher out-of-pocket costs for colonoscopy may have been a factor.  

Yao stressed that the new study is not politically motivated. "I am not a Democrat or a Republican," he said in a press release. "I feel preventable care is very important and we need to promote that."

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