The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, does more than just make health care affordable to all, it’s also opening doors to life-saving treatment for Black cancer patients.
New studies find that the ACA is linked to minimizing racial disparities within the care of cancer patients and earlier diagnoses for ovarian cancer patients, which often goes undetected until it spreads and becomes fatal, according to The Mayo Clinic.
The new findings were released on Sunday by American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago and will be featured at the organization’s annual conference. The study found that before the ACA was enacted, African-American patients were 4.8 percent less likely to receive timely cancer treatment compared to their white counterparts.
The expansion of Medicaid was most beneficial for Black people, who had the greatest rate of improvement in getting treatment within a month of being diagnosed.
Now there is nearly no difference in the timely receipt of cancer treatment between Black and white patients under Medicaid, according to the study.
“Many studies have described racial disparities that exist in cancer care, but few have shown what types of interventions improve health equity — we now have evidence that Medicaid expansion can mitigate certain health disparities, “study author Amy J. Davidoff, PhD said in the release.
Another study, released on Sunday, found earlier diagnoses and treatment for ovarian cancer after the ACA was enacted, with more women receiving treatment within a month. More than 75 percent of women diagnosed with early-stage ovarian cancer live five years or more, according to ASCO.
Despite the great news, some experts are still concerned that other disparities may arise, according to the Washington Post. Since the program was made optional by the Supreme Court in 2012, some states will have to choose whether or not to expand Medicaid and in turn, could leave some patients more vulnerable than others.