Introduction Breast cancer in young women tends to be more aggressive, but timely treatment may not be always available, particularly to those without health insurance. We aim to examine whether the dependent coverage expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA-DCE) implemented in 2010 was associated with changes in time to treatment among women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Methods A total of 7,176 patients diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in 2007-2009 (pre-ACA) and 2011-2013 (post-ACA) were identified from the National Cancer Database. A quasiexperimental design difference-in-differences (DD) approach was used, with patients aged 19-25 (targeted by the policy) considered as the intervention group, and patients aged 26- 34 years (not affected by the policy) as the control group. Changes in the following treatment outcomes were examined: time from diagnosis to surgery, time from surgery to adjuvant chemotherapy, and time from adjuvant chemotherapy to radiation. Results Compared with the control group of patients aged 26-34, young patients aged 19-25 experienced a statistically nonsignificant decrease of 2.7 percentage points (95% CI [-1.2, 6.5]) in the uninsured rate. This did not translate into more reduction in delays to surgery (DD = 2.7 days, 95% CI [-3.2, 8.3]), chemotherapy (DD = -1.0 days, 95% CI [-7.2, 5.2]) or radiation (DD = 5.3 days, 95% CI [-15.6, 26.3]) in the younger cohort than the older cohort. Conclusions and Relevance No significant changes in time to treatment were found among young women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer after the implementation of the ACA-DCE. Future studies examining impacts of health care policy reform on breast cancer care are warranted to include patients from low-income families and to consider effects from Medicaid expansion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)