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Insurance Status May Affect Cancer Outcome: Study
Date:8/8/2014

By
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 8, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new U.S. study finds that cancer patients who don't have insurance -- or who get it through the federal health insurance program for the poor (Medicaid) -- are at much higher risk of poor medical outcomes than other people.

They're more likely to have advanced cancer when they're diagnosed, less likely to be treated with surgery or radiation and more likely to die of their disease, researchers report.

The findings don't explain the discrepancies, and they don't say anything about how health care reform might change the fates of poor patients with cancer. Still, they offer a worrisome picture of the American health care system in the years right before the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as some call it, was passed.

"We were surprised to find that patients without insurance were twice as likely as those with insurance to present with cancer that's spread from the place where it first started," said study author Dr. Gary Walker, a radiation oncologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer in Houston. "Even when adjusting for many different factors, patients were still more likely to die if they had Medicaid coverage or no insurance."

In fact, up to 33 percent of the cancer patients without insurance or with Medicaid died within two years of diagnosis, compared to just 14 percent of those with other kinds of insurance.

The study authors launched their research because there's little information about how having insurance affects the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, Walker said.

The researchers examined national cancer statistics from 2007 to 2010 for people aged 18-64; all the patients suffered from at least one of the 10 deadliest types of cancer. The study focuses on the insur
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