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Health insurance coverage helping young cancer patients do better

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Josh Hammerquist
Health insurance coverage helping young cancer patients do better
Health insurance coverage helping young cancer patients do better

When it comes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it seems as if the broader access to health insurance it granted to many younger Americans in particular is likely to have a significant positive impact on mortality rates when dealing with instances of cancer down the road.

A recent study at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston found that young adults - those between the ages of 20 and 40 years old - with health insurance who received cancer diagnoses were 16 percent more likely to have their treatment earlier in the process than those who didn't have such coverage, according to a report from Reuters. That, in turn, led to those patients' cancers being more treatable and therefore less fatal.

Insured cancer patients were further twice as likely to receive more costly, but ultimately life-saving treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery, than their uninsured counterparts, the report said. However, it's important to note that the impact of the ACA in all this is likely to be small at present. More often, cancer is suffered by older people - the elderly are by far the most likely age group to get it -  and as such the impact of the ACA on young people's treatments in particular is still bound to be relatively small.

Potential issues remain
Despite this good news about the efficacy of insurance coverage to reduce cancer death risk, it seems that there may still be some complications for many young people who are diagnosed with the disease, the report said. Perhaps chief among these is that young Americans are also likely to obtain lower-cost coverage than older ones, and as such might not have access to care that's of quite so high a quality; certainly, many specialists are likely to be ruled out of their plans, which may lead to complications in diagnosing the issues, and perhaps treating them as well.

It should come as no surprise to insurance companies that improved coverage makes treatment more effective and affordable, but it may be wise to highlight these facts in marketing to young people especially. Those prospective customers may be a little more reticent to sign up simply because the cost they face can be quite high as a percentage of their personal incomes, even if they receive financial assistance from the federal government.



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