Affordable Care Act and cancer stage at diagnosis in an underserved population

Yan Lu, Bradford E. Jackson, Aaron W. Gehr, Deanna Cross, Latha Neerukonda, Bhavna Tanna, Bassam Ghabach, Rohit P. Ojha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has increased insurance coverage among underserved individuals, but the effect of ACA on cancer diagnosis is currently debated, particularly in Medicaid non-expansion states. Therefore, we aimed to assess the effect of ACA implementation on stage at diagnosis among underserved cancer patients in Texas, a Medicaid non-expansion state. We used data from the institutional registry of the JPS Center for Cancer Care, which serves an urban population of underserved cancer patients. Eligible individuals were aged 18 to 64 years and diagnosed with a first primary invasive solid tumor between 2008 and 2015. We used a natural experiment framework and interrupted time-series analysis to assess level (i.e. immediate) and slope (over time) changes in insurance coverage and cancer stage at diagnosis between pre- and post-ACA periods. Our study population comprised 4808 underserved cancer patients, of whom 51% were racial/ethnic minorities. The prevalence of uninsured cancer patients did not immediately change after ACA implementation but modestly decreased over time (PR = 0.94; 95% CL: 0.90, 0.98). The prevalence of early- and advanced-stage diagnosis did not appreciably change overall or when stratified by screen-detectable cancers. Our results suggest that ACA implementation decreased the prevalence of uninsured cancer patients but had little effect on cancer stage at diagnosis in an underserved population. Given that Texas is a Medicaid non-expansion state, Medicaid expansion and alternative approaches may need to be further explored to improve earlier cancer diagnosis among underserved individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105748
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  • Cancer stage
  • Public hospital
  • Safety-net
  • Underserved
  • Uninsured


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