Why Survival Benefits Have Improved In Cancer Patients With Obamacare

A cancer diagnosis is already devastating enough, and trying to figure out how to pay for cancer treatment only adds to the stress of an already difficult time. Everyone knows that paying for adequate healthcare is not an easy feat, and it's something that many people struggle with. Medical bills can pile up that leave people feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and wondering how in the world they are going to pay off the huge bill sitting in front of them. In a 2018 article published in JAMA Oncology, it was reported that cancer patients struggle to access and afford cancer treatment. Being that people with cancer typically require long-term treatment, not having access to healthcare can be particularly damaging and life-threatening. 

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on March 23, 2010 in an effort to improve healthcare affordability and access (per The White House). Also known as Obamacare, the goal of the ACA is to ensure affordable health insurance for more people and to expand access to healthcare. It's been nearly six years since President Barack Obama left office, and you may be wondering how having access to Obamacare has impacted people with cancer. Recent research has found that people with cancer have appeared to have better survival rates since Obamacare was signed, according to a 2021 article from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Following this discovery, we can now examine the factors involved in these increased survival rates.

How has Obamacare helped young adults with cancer?

Researchers investigated how Obamacare has influenced the survival rates of cancer patients in a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. They found that under Obamacare, the expansion of Medicaid was associated with better cancer survival rates for young adults between 18 and 39. The association was especially pronounced among underrepresented ethnic and racial groups, particularly those who identified as Hispanic or non-Hispanic Black. The researchers believe that the results of this study can be interpreted as being supportive of expanding Medicaid. "The current study adds to accumulating evidence of the multiple health benefits of Medicaid expansion, reinforcing the importance of expanding Medicaid in all states," said author Xeusong Han, one of the study's authors (per Community Healthcare System).

Multiple factors may be responsible for the increased survival rates among young cancer patients. For example, an earlier diagnosis may be made possible by access to Obamacare. An early cancer diagnosis is associated with better survival rates (per Nuffield Trust). Moreover, the American Cancer Society explains how Obamacare has provided better coverage for low-income individuals and has made preventative services, such as mammograms, more accessible. In addition, many people between the ages of 18 and 24 didn't have health insurance before Obamacare, and 9.7 million didn't have health insurance in 2009. Obamacare allows young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26. This could give young adults with cancer a longer period of time to receive affordable treatment.