Medicaid and Uninsured Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients Have More Advanced Tumor Stage and Are Less Likely to Receive Treatment

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Abstract

Goals:

To evaluate the impact of insurance status on tumor stage at diagnosis, treatment received, and overall survival among adults with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Background:

Insurance status affects access to care, which impacts timely access to cancer screening for early detection and treatment.

Study:

Using the 2007 to 2012 Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, we retrospectively evaluated US adults with HCC. Insurance status included Medicare/commercial insurance (MC), Medicaid (MA), and no insurance (NI). HCC tumor stage was evaluated using SEER staging system and Milan criteria. HCC treatment and survival were evaluated using multivariate logistic regression and Cox proportional hazards models.

Results:

Among 32,388 HCC patients (71.2% MC, 23.9% MA, and 4.9% NI), patients with MA or NI were significantly less likely to have localized tumor stage at time of diagnosis compared with MC [NI vs. MC; odds ratio, 0.41; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.78-0.92; P<0.001]. MA and NI patients were less likely to receive treatment, and specifically less likely to receive surgical resection or liver transplantation compared with MC patients, even after correcting for tumor stage at diagnosis (odds of surgical resection or liver transplant in NI vs. MC: odds ratio, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.21-0.33; P<0.001). NI patients (hazard ratio, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.29-1.50; P<0.001) had significantly lower survival compared with MC patients.

Conclusions:

Among US adults with HCC, MA, or NI patients had more advanced tumor stage at diagnosis, lower rates treatment, and significantly lower overall survival. Ensuring equal insurance coverage may improve access to care and mitigate some disparities in HCC outcomes.

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