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Cancer Survival in Kentucky and Health Insurance Coverage

October 13, 2003
By Kathleen McDavid, Thomas C. Tucker, Andrew Sloggett, Michel P. Coleman

This paper, written by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher Kathleen McDavid, uses data from the Kentucky Cancer Registry to study health insurance status on cancer survival rates.

stethoscope and insurance docs

This paper, written by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher Kathleen McDavid, uses data from the Kentucky Cancer Registry to study health insurance status on cancer survival rates.

Individuals with private insurance are most likely to survive cancer, McDavid writes, but Medicaid recipients are empirically least likely to survive cancer.

“Among patients with prostate cancer, 3-year relative survival proportion was 98 percent for the privately insured and 83 percent for the uninsured; comparable figures were 91 percent and 78 percent for patients with breast cancer; 71 percent and 53 percent for patients with colorectal cancer; and 23 percent and 13 percent for patients with lung cancer,” McDavid writes. “For all 4 cancers the uninsured ranked fifth or sixth on survival, above patients with unknown insurance type or Medicaid/welfare.”

Medicaid recipients receive poorer health care than patients who pay for their own health care, McDavid writes.

“Medicaid patients with any one of the 4 cancers studied here had a higher risk of death (comparable with those without insurance or of unknown insurance status) within 3 years compared with patients privately insured. These results may reflect a scarcity of primary care physicians who are willing to see Medicaid patients for preventive care or screening.”