Since the Affordable Care Act eliminated certain out-of-pocket costs, the mammography rate has increased, according to a study published Monday.
The colonoscopy rate, however, didn't increase, which researchers concluded could indicate that other factors remain as deterrents. Still, the study found that the removal of out-of-pocket costs may help overcome a barrier to receiving recommended preventive services.
Dr. Gregory Cooper, of University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, was the lead author of the study published in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.
Out-of-pocket expenditures have been considered to be a barrier to receiving cancer preventive services, especially for individuals with lower socioeconomic status, according to a news release from UH.
"Although the future of the ACA is now questioned, the findings do support, at least for mammography, that elimination of financial barriers is associated with improvement in cancer screening," Cooper said in a statement.?"The findings have implications for other efforts to provide services to traditionally underserved patients, including the use of Medicaid expansion."
To determine the changes in the use of mammography and colonoscopy among fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries, Cooper and his colleagues looked at Medicare claims data. The team identified women at least 70 years old without mammography in the past two years, and men and women at least 70 years old at increased risk for colorectal cancer without colonoscopy in the past five years, according to the release.
Following the ACA's elimination of out-of-pocket expenses for recommended cancer screening, the uptake of mammography increased in all economic subgroups, according to the release.
Pre-existing disparities based on socioeconomic status in colonoscopies didn't change, which researchers suspect may have been due to other barriers, such as the need for bowel preparation or the fact that a subset of colonoscopies would still require out-of-pocket expenses, according to the release.
Which, if any, ACA provisions will remain under the new administration is still unknown.
"Study measures effect of Obamacare on socioeconomic disparities in cancer screening" originally appeared in Crain's Cleveland Business.