More young women are getting screened and diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer, potentially because Obamacare allows them to access insurance benefits through their parents’ plans, according to a new study from American Cancer Society researchers.
The researchers examined a large database that tracks cancer cases in the United States. They compared the cancer diagnoses among women between the ages of 21 to 25 to the diagnoses among women between the ages of 26 to 34 — both before and after the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion took effect.
An Obamacare provision that allows young adults to remain insured through their parents’ plans until the age of 26 appears to have affected the rates of cervical cancer diagnosis among that demographic. After the ACA, the diagnosis rates significantly rose for the women in their early twenties and remained fairly constant for older women.
“It’s a very remarkable finding, actually,” researcher Dr. Ahmedin Jemal told the New York Times. “You see the effect of the ACA on the cancer outcomes.”
It’s better to receive an early cancer diagnosis because the disease is easier to treat in its early stages and patients are more likely to survive. Even though it might not sound like a good thing that cervical cancer cases are on the rise, it’s actually reflective of the fact that more people are using their health insurance to get screened. Previous research has found that people with insurance are more likely to take advantage of preventative health services like screenings that can detect cancer as soon as possible.
About 4 million young adults have gained insurance benefits through Obamacare, according to the latest federal data. There have been several other pieces of evidence that the law is linked to improved health outcomes among this group.
For instance, more young people have sought mental health services in the aftermath of Obamacare implementation. And when they’re surveyed about their own perceptions of their wellbeing, young adults now report that they’re in better physical and mental health. There’s also some data suggesting more young women are able to afford effective forms of birth control.
Obamacare’s coverage expansion for young adults is one of the law’s most popular provisions. Even Republican lawmakers who dislike the law as a whole have indicated that they support allowing young people to remain on their parents’ insurance plans.