The new healthcare law will offer expanded coverage for those women in need of breast and cervical cancer screenings, according to a recent study.
Researchers at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) suggest that millions of low-income women would benefit from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in regards to cancer screening for breast and cervical cancers.
Historically, low-income women without health insurance coverage could not afford cancer screening examinations such as Pap tests and mammograms. As many of us know, both cervical and breast cancer, when caught in their early stages, have a much better prognosis.
Currently, approximately 40,000 women die each year from breast cancer and an estimated 4,000 die of cervical cancer. I'm sure this statistic would decrease if all women were able to be screened on a regular basis.
Researchers created a model based on results from the Massachusetts' healthcare reform initiative to help estimate the number of low-income women from each state who would benefit from a plan such as the ACA. If implemented, it is estimated that 6.8 million low-income women ages 18 to 64 would be able to obtain health insurance coverage under the new healthcare reform plan.
Furthermore, if Medicaid expanded coverage for low-income adults, they predict that another 500,000 more women per year would be able to obtain a mammogram and another 1.3 million would be able to get a Pap test.
Leighton Ku, PhD, MPH, professor of health policy and director of the Center for Health Policy Research at SPHHS and leader of the study, wrote:
The Affordable Care Act could lead to major gains in screening and early detection of breast and cervical. Those gains could result in faster treatment and better outcomes for women across the nation.
Ku also notes that these improvements come after a decade in which women's cancer screening rates have remained stagnant.
While the ACA is offering affordable health insurance coverage for low-income women, there will also be another 4.5 million women who will remain uninsured and will have difficulty affording cancer screening costs on their own. This is where the Center for Disease Control (CDC) may be able to help.
The CDC's breast and cervical cancer program helps thousands of uninsured women get the screenings they need. If further treatment is needed, most states offer Medicaid coverage for cancer treatment if they are diagnosed under the CDC program.
Although the ACA was passed by the Supreme Court, Medicaid expansion must be optional for states. The governors in the states of Florida, Texas, Nebraska, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Mississippi have said they would stonewall Medicaid expansion. If this would occur, Ku suggests that it is unlikely that these particular states would experience any improvements in women's health coverage and/or screening rates.
How do you feel about the resistance to Medicaid expansion? With the affordable government insurance option coming into play, do you feel fewer patients will require Medicaid coverage?