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  • Steven Reinberg
  • Posted May 11, 2020

Breaks in Health Insurance Hurt Cancer Care, Survival

Health insurance disruptions are never a good thing, but for people with cancer it can lead to poor care and lower odds of survival, a new study finds.

This could prove ominous for the many Americans who have lost health insurance due to coronavirus-related layoffs.

"Our findings were consistent across multiple cancer sites, with several studies finding a 'dose-response' relationship, meaning the longer the disruption, the worse the care," said study co-author Robin Yabroff, of the American Cancer Society.

"Disruptions" can stem from gaps in health insurance, changes in type of coverage (public to private) or changes between plans, the researchers explained.

For the study, Yabroff and her colleagues reviewed 29 studies published between 1980 and 2019.

The investigators found that 4% to 33% of adults had disruptions in coverage. For some patients, this meant they were not covered for cancer screening or were diagnosed only when the cancer was advanced.

If they had cancer, these patients were also less likely to get treatment and to have worse survival compared with patients whose coverage wasn't disrupted, the researchers said.

"The consistency of these findings across the cancer control continuum in our review highlights how important it is to minimize breaks in health insurance coverage to address cancer disparities and promote health equity," Yabroff said in a cancer society news release.

The report was published April 27 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

More information

For more on health insurance, head to Healthcare.gov.

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, April 27, 2020
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