According to researchers from the American Cancer Society, there’s been an increase in the number of women under the age of 26 who have been diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer, most likely the effect of Obamacare.
The New York Times reports that a year after the Affordable Care Act was enacted, the number of uninsured young adults (19-26) fell nearly 13 percent, or by roughly four million people. Part of the law allowed dependents to stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26: as a result, young adults had more access to early screening programs.
The early screening for cervical cancer is particularly important. Early stage diagnosis not only improves long-term survival rates but also increases a woman’s chances for remaining fertile post-treatment. And study after study has shown that the insured are (obviously) more likely to opt for early screening. The Times notes:
Researchers used the National Cancer Data Base, a hospital-based registry of about 70 percent of all cancer cases in the United States. They compared diagnoses for women ages 21 to 25 who had cervical cancer with those for women ages 26 to 34, before and after the health law provision began in 2010. Early-stage diagnoses rose substantially among the younger group — the one covered by the law — and stayed flat among the older group.
Those numbers led researchers to conclude that the diagnosis rate was up because more young women were insured. “It’s a very remarkable finding, actually,” Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, one of the researchers told the Times. “You see the effect of the A.C.A. on the cancer outcomes.”
Cervical cancer screening is generally part of a Pap test, which can detect precancerous cells (they can also be detected in an HPV test if you’re over 30). Under Obamacare, Pap and HPV tests are routinely covered under most health insurance plans. Just a reminder, it’s recommended that women get screened regularly beginning at the age of 21.
Image via AP.