Brett Lissenden, (left) a student in the University of Virginia's economics Ph.D. program, and Nengliang "Aaron" Yao, Ph.D., of the UVA School of Medicine's Department of Public Health Sciences, focused on how the Affordable Care Act affected early cancer diagnoses. Photo by Dan Addison/UVA
Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Research has found that the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, increased the accessibility and affordability of recommended cancer screenings for millions of Americans.
Researchers at the University of Virginia examined how the ACA, commonly known as Obamacare, impacted early cancer diagnoses in breast and colorectal cancers.
"The main finding is that from 2011 to 2013, the ACA resulted in an 8 percent increase in the diagnoses of early-stage colorectal cancer among U.S. seniors aged 65 and older," Brett Lissenden, a graduate student in UVA's economics Ph.D. program and co-author of the study, said in a press release.
Lissenden and co-author Nengliang Yao, Ph.D., of the UVA School of Medicine's Department of Public Health Sciences, studied population-based cancer registry data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program from 18 different registries.
"It covers about 28 percent of the U.S. population," Yao said. "It's kind of the gold standard for studying cancer incidences."
The analyzed data was made up of patients diagnosed with cancer for the first time from 2008 to 2013 and showed that there was an 8 percent increase in colorectal cancer detection a year after the ACA was signed into law in 2011.
The ACA had no significant effect on the number of breast cancer diagnoses during the same time period. The study authors stated that the difference in the rate of initial diagnosis of colorectal cancer over breast cancer was because there was a larger decrease in out-of-pocket spending for colorectal cancer screening than breast cancer screening.
The study was published in the journal Health Affairs.