Unsurprising Finding Of The Day

February 17th, 2008at 08:53pm Posted by Eli

This surprises… no-one:

A nationwide study has found that the uninsured and those covered by Medicaid are more likely than those with private insurance to receive a diagnosis of cancer in the late stages of the disease, often diminishing their chances of survival.

The study by researchers with the American Cancer Society also found that blacks had a higher risk of late diagnosis, even after accounting for their disproportionately high rates of being uninsured and underinsured. The study’s authors speculated that the disparity might be caused by a lack of health literacy and an inadequate supply of providers in minority communities.

(…)

The widest disparities were noted in cancers that could be detected early through standard screening or assessment of symptoms, like breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and melanoma. For each, uninsured patients were two to three times more likely to be diagnosed in Stage III or Stage IV rather than Stage I. Smaller disparities were found for bladder cancer, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer, with only the last two not being statistically significant.

When comparing blacks to whites, the disparities in late-stage diagnosis were statistically significant for 10 of the 12 cancers. Hispanics had a higher relative risk as well but less so than blacks.

The study’s authors concluded that “individuals without private insurance are not receiving optimum care in terms of cancer screening or timely diagnosis and follow-up with health care providers.” Advanced-stage diagnosis, they wrote, “leads to increased morbidity, decreased quality of life and survival and, often, increased costs.”

(…)

“There’s evidence that not having insurance increases suffering,” said Dr. Otis W. Brawley, the American Cancer Society’s chief medical officer. Dr. Brawley said it was clear that some patients with possible cancer symptoms – say, a persistent cough that could indicate lung cancer – were delaying doctor’s visits because they were uninsured.

I have insurance, and I hate going to the doctor’s. But hey, just ask Dubya – there’s no need for preventive care, all you have to do is go to the emergency room when you come down with some cancer.

(h/t dakine)

Entry Filed under: Healthcare


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