Study: 1 million women may get screenings under ACA



With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than 1 million low-income women will be covered for screenings for breast and cervical cancer, according to a new study by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS).

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than 1 million low-income women will be covered for screenings for breast and cervical cancer, according to a new study by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS).

Breast and cervical cancer
The study, titled "Health Care Reform and Women's Insurance Coverage for Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening," appears in a recent issue of the journal Preventing Chronic Disease and was funded by the American Cancer Society, with cooperation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"The Affordable Care Act could lead to major gains in screening and early detection of breast and cervical cancer," said lead researcher Leighton Ku, Ph.D., M.P.H., a professor of health policy and director of the Center for Health Policy Research at SPHHS. "Those gains could result in faster treatment and better outcomes for women across the nation."

Affordable care
Using a model based on the state of Massachusetts' health care reform, SPHHS researchers estimated the number of low-income women who would be covered by insurance once the ACA goes into full effect. Judging by the team's estimates, 6.8 million low-income women, ages 18 to 64 years old, who were previously unable to afford testing for breast and cervical cancer would gain health insurance under the ACA. With nationwide implementation, the study found that roughly 500,000 more women would be able to receive mammograms and more than 1.3 million could afford Pap tests.

However, 4.5 million women will continue to be uninsured and unable to receive cancer screening, according to the study. These women, some unable to buy Tamoxifen even from an online pharmacy to reduce their risk of breast cancer, will continue to seek the CDC's breast and cervical cancer screening program to provide health care for these diseases.

"The CDC's breast and cervical cancer program serves as a lifeline helping hundreds of thousands of uninsured women get the screening services they need," said Paula Lantz, Ph.D., professor and chair of the SPHHS Department of Health Policy.

A widespread issue
Second to skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, according to the CDC. In 2008 alone, more than 210,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. While every year, almost 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer.