Study: Cancer Outcomes Worse Among Medi-Cal Beneficiaries
Medi-Cal beneficiaries diagnosed with cancer are less likely to receive recommended treatment and have lower survival rates, compared with those with other types of insurance, according to a study by UC-Davis researchers, Kaiser Health News reports.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Details of Study
For the study, researchers from UC-Davis' Institute for Population Health Improvement examined California Cancer Registry data on about 700,000 California patients who between 2004 and 2012 were diagnosed with breast, colon, rectal, lung or prostate cancer.
The patients had:
- Department of Defense coverage;
- Department of Veterans Affairs coverage;
- Dual Medi-Cal and Medicare coverage; or
- Private coverage.
The researchers tracked:
- Five-year relative survival rates based on coverage type;
- How early patients were diagnosed; and
- Quality of care.
The study found that:
- Medi-Cal beneficiaries were diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer more than three times as often as privately insured patients or those with DOD coverage;
- Medi-Cal beneficiaries with breast, colon or rectal cancer were more likely to be diagnosed at advanced stages and have worse five-year survival rates than patients with other types of insurance; and
- Patients dually eligible for Medi-Cal and Medicare coverage were the least likely to receive recommended treatments for breast and colon cancer.
While VA patients faced the longest wait times for care, they were more likely to receive recommended treatments for all types of cancer examined.
According to the study, the reason for such disparities is unclear.
Kenneth Kizer, director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC-Davis, said, "What's striking is how similar the findings were for Medi-Cal members and the uninsured."
Kizer noted, "If we weren't spending billions of Medi-Cal dollars on cancer care perhaps that would not be surprising, but you'd think that the outcomes might be better when you're spending that much money" (Feder Ostrov, Kaiser Health News, 11/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.