The ACA and Cancer Screening and Diagnosis

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) included multiple provisions expected to increase cancer screening and subsequently early diagnosis of cancer. Key provisions included new coverage options for low-income adults and young adults, as well as elimination of cost sharing for recommended preventive services across most health insurance plans. This article reviews relevant quantitative studies published since the ACA’s passage to assess whether the goal of increasing access to preventive services has been met. Because of lags in data availability, most studies examined only a short period post-ACA. Findings on changes in screening in the general population were mixed, although impacts were greatest among those with lower education and income, as well as groups that previously faced the highest cost barriers to screening. Furthermore, multiple studies found evidence of increases in early-stage diagnoses for certain cancers. Thus, certain targeted populations appear to have better access to cancer screening after the ACA.

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