The Impact of Near-Universal Insurance Coverage on Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening: Evidence from Massachusetts


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Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of expansion to near-universal health insurance coverage in Massachusetts on breast and cervical cancer screening. We use data from 2002 to 2010 to compare changes in receipt of mammograms and Pap tests in Massachusetts relative to other New England states. We also consider the effect specifically among low-income women. We find positive effects of Massachusetts health reform on cancer screening, suggesting a 4 to 5% increase in mammograms and 6 to 7% increase in Pap tests annually. Increases in both breast and cervical cancer screening are larger 3 years after the implementation of reform than in the year immediately following, suggesting that there may be an adjustment or learning period. Low-income women experience greater increases in breast and cervical cancer screening than the overall population; among women with household income less than 250% of the federal poverty level, mammograms increase by approximately 8% and Pap tests by 9%. Overall, Massachusetts health reform appears to have increased breast and cervical cancer screening, particularly among low-income women. Our results suggest that reform was successful in promoting preventive care among targeted populations. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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