ACA Increased Insurance Coverage for Young Cancer Patients

Public Health; Research

The Affordable Care Act’s dependent-coverage provision (DCP) has had a positive impact on coverage for young adults with cancer, according to new research from the Brown School.

Researchers analyzed national data on more than 120,000 cancer cases diagnosed in patients aged 19-29. About 75,000 were eligible for insurance under the dependent-coverage provision of the ACA that went into effect in 2010 and required insurance plans to allow coverage of young adults on their parent’s policies up to age 26.

Those patients were more likely to be insured than young adult patients not covered by the law’s provision, the study found. The positive impacts were observed across subgroups, with larger insurance gains in young males than females, and a lower impact among people living in the least-educated areas.

Cancer is diagnosed annually in about 75,000 U.S. adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 39, and about 9,000 die from cancer each year. Progress in improving survival rates for this group has been slower than in other age groups, in part due to relatively lower health insurance coverage rates, especially in lower socioeconomic groups.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study examining differences in the DCP impact based on sociodemographic and economic factors among young adult cancer patients diagnosed across the United States,” wrote Kimberly Johnson, the study’s senior author and associate professor at the Brown School.

The paper was published online November 6 in Cancer Causes & Control.