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The $125 billion question: How will the ACA affect cancer survivors?
Date:1/23/2014

In 2010, the total cost of cancer care in the United States reached $125 billion. Globally, the economic toll from cancer is nearly 20 percent higher than the leading cause of death, heart disease. Cancer patients are also living longer today, which is further increasing the cost of their continued care. As the health insurance exchanges have opened and heated debate about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues, many questions remain, including the $125 billion question: "How will the ACA affect the most expensive disease: cancer?"

VCU Massey Cancer Center is currently examining the effects of the ACA on cancer survivors. Scientists from Massey's Cancer Prevention and Control research program are studying the ACA's impact on Medicaid-eligible populations, employment-based insurance, health benefit exchanges and safety net providers.

The effect of Medicaid expansions on cancer screening

In 2006, Massachusetts expanded its health insurance coverage to nearly all residents of the state, becoming the policy template for the ACA, which will expand Medicaid coverage in many states. Massey researcher Lindsay Sabik, Ph.D., led a team to examine how cancer screening changed before and after Massachusetts' health care reform. She found that, overall, the reform appeared to have increased breast and cervical cancer screening, particularly among low-income women, suggesting a positive effect of near-universal coverage on preventive care.

"Preventive care is very important. Studies have shown that with the right approaches, a third of the most common cancers could be prevented. After seeing the impact of health reform on cancer screening in Massachusetts, we are interested in seeing if the insurance coverage expansions will have similar effects in other states," says Sabik, principal investigator of the study.

Sabik and her team are currently funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to research how state Medicaid policie
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Contact: Alaina Schneider
afschneider@vcu.edu
804-628-4578
Virginia Commonwealth University
Source:Eurekalert

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