Over 1Million Women Could Gain Access to Life-Saving Tests for Cancer

By Amy Taylor on November 16, 2012

United States – In 2014, the Affordable Care Act would expand the health insurance coverage of low-income women to include breast cancer and cervical cancer screening. This means that over one million of them could gain access to potentially life-saving tests.

Researchers from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) conducted a study to estimate how many women from the low-income population in every state could benefit when the Affordable Care Act has been fully implemented. Based on their estimate, there will be 6.8 million women, ages 18-64 who would gain insurance under the said reform. When that happens, around 500,000 more will be able to undergo mammograms or breast cancer tests while 1.3 million will be able to get Papanicplaou (Pap) tests for cervical cancer.

For the past decade, the number of American women undergoing mammograms has remained steady. Meanwhile, the number of those getting Pap tests went down.

According to the researchers, a lot of women couldn’t afford the screening tests for breast and cervical cancers – two of the leading causes of death in women. Early detection of the tumour through mammograms or Pap test is critical in preventing cancer cells from spreading.

Major gains in healthcare

There are about 40,000 women who die of breast cancer every year, and another 4,000 women die of cervical cancer. The Affordable Care Act could lead to major gains that will promote faster treatments and better outcomes, said Leighton Ku, PhD, MPH, study lead author and professor of health policy and Director of the Centre for Health Policy at SPHHS.

But despite the full implementation of the policy, there are 4.5 million women who will remain uninsured and therefore, would have difficulty shouldering the cost of tests and screenings on their own. These women, according to the study authors, will still need the help offered by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency is currently offering uninsured low-earner women with access to screening tests, as well as referrals for follow-up care for those who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The US government is set to reduce the number of uninsured people and require both the Medicare and private health insurance to include said tests in their offered policies without cost-sharing. But because the Supreme Court ruled that the expansion of the Medicaid service is only optional for some states, the researchers said those that are not going to implement the new policy is unlikely to experience the benefits of these improvements.

Their study, entitled "Health Care Reform and Women’s Insurance Coverage for Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening”, was published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

 

Dear Readers,

In the UK, do you think enough is done to prevent Cervical Cancer? In both the US and the UK, what more could be done?

Share your comments below!

 

Source of this article:

Health Care Reform and Women’s Insurance Coverage for Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening

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