The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has led to better treatment for young adults diagnosed with colorectal cancer, according to a study from the American Cancer Society. A provision in the ACA allows young adults up to age 26 to be covered under their parents’ private health care insurance. The study, published December 19, 2019 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, says the provision helped these young adults get diagnosed earlier and start some treatments sooner.
The researchers used the National Cancer Database to look at data from more than 10,000 young adults diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 2007 and 2013. They compared outcomes for those diagnosed before the ACA took effect in 2010 with those diagnosed after it took effect. They looked at 2 age groups: 19 to 25-year-old patients, who were eligible to be on their parents’ insurance, and 27 to 34-year-old patients, who had “aged out” of their parents’ health insurance.
They found eligible patients got better care after the ACA was enacted:
At the same time, there was no significant change in care after the ACA took effect for the patients not eligible to be on their parents’ insurance.
The people in the study were too young for routine colorectal cancer screening. The authors write the improvements in care are most likely due to better access to health care that helped them get symptoms checked out earlier.
Improvement in Care among Young Adult Colorectal Cancer Patients Eligible for Dependent Coverage Expansion after the Affordable Care Act. Published December 19, 2019 in Journal of the National Cancer Institute. First author Leticia Nogueira, PhD, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Ga.