Cancer deaths were lower in the five states and District of Columbia that expanded Medicaid early-on as part of the Affordable Care Act, compared to states that did not expand the federal insurance, according to a study lead by Duke Cancer Institute.
Publishing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI), the researchers found that the six early adopters -- including California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Minnesota, Washington and Washington D.C. -- saw rates of cancer deaths decline by 7.7%. By comparison, in the 19 states that did not expand Medicaid, the drop in cancer death rates was just 6.3%.
“It is important to be able to show that there has been a mortality benefit associated with Medicaid expansion,” said lead author Nosayaba (Nosa) Osazuwa-Peters, Ph.D., an assistant professor in Duke’s Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences. “Expanding access to health care enabled people to seek care earlier rather than waiting or not going to the doctor at all. And there is quite a bit of evidence that catching cancer early is better for outcomes.”