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Rise in CRC Screening Rates After ACA Implementation

Increase in colonoscopy, other tests typically seen among poorer, less educated Americans

FRIDAY, June 5, 2015 (HealthDay News) — The Affordable Care Act may have helped boost rates of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening among lower income Americans, a new study suggests. The findings were published online June 4 in Cancer.

A team of researchers led by Stacey Fedewa, M.P.H., of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, tracked data from the National Health Interview Survey. They found that overall CRC screening rates among people ages 50 to 75 rose from 57.3 percent in 2008 to 61.2 percent in 2013. The Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010.

The increase was typically seen among people who had low incomes, had low levels of education, and were covered by Medicare, but not among wealthier people. Between 2003 and 2008 — before the Affordable Care Act — there was also a large rise in CRC screening among people with private insurance and Medicare coverage, but that increase occurred across all socioeconomic groups, Fedewa’s team noted.

While the study couldn’t prove cause and effect, the recent increase in CRC screening rates could be due to the removal of financial barriers to screening after health care reform, the researchers said. Fedewa and her team also tracked breast cancer screening rates among women 40 and older. They found that rates stayed the same between 2008 and 2013. This may be due to a number of factors, including already high screening rates and lower cost, according to the researchers.

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