Report Links Health Insurance Status With Cancer Care

In Memory of Tina

The difference between having health insurance and not being covered can mean the difference between life and death according to a new study out from the American Cancer Society. The report, posted on line, says that uninsured Americans are less likely to get screened for cancer, more likely to be diagnosed with an advanced stage of the disease, and less likely to survive that diagnosis than their privately insured counterparts.

This report, which is sure to fuel the fire of those advocating a single-payer health care system, found that for all cancers combined, uninsured patients were 1.6 times as likely to die within 5 years compared to individuals with private insurance. More specifically, 35 percent of uninsured patients had died at the end of five years, compared with 23 percent of privately insured patients.

In 2007, the American Cancer Society launched the Access to Care campaign, a national initiative dedicated to raising awareness about the plight of uninsured and underinsured people in the United States. The campaign encourages Americans to get involved in finding ways to fix the problem and make access to care a national priority.

I can think of no more powerful way to dramatize the plight of the uninsured and underinsured than to tie it to the real people represented in these figures. As an insured person currently undergoing treatment for cancer, I can tell you that I like the improved odds that having health insurance has given me, and my heart goes out to those who truly do not have the means to seek treatment. I hope that the publicity that this study will generate will stimulate a national discussion about how to solve the problem, and not a headlong rush to a national health care system.

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