There’s no doubt that the Affordable Care Act is a political and economic hot potato, taking blame, just this month, for everything from the insurance industry’s profit losses to craft beer makers possibly going bust over revised nutrition label requirements.
But study results published Tuesday in JAMA highlight a potential upside to the overhaul in health care: young women aged 21 to 25, now covered under the ACA’s Dependent Coverage Expansion program, may be discovering their cervical cancer at an earlier stage.
The study, conducted by researchers with the American Cancer Society, looked at cervical cancer diagnoses in young women both before and after the September 2010 implementation of the ACA-DCE program, which allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26.
“Among women aged 21 to 25 years,” the authors wrote in a research letter, “the proportion of early-stage disease increased from 67.9 percent in 2009 to 84.3 percent in 2011.”
In addition, the authors found that many of the young women were able to receive less-aggressive, fertility-sparing treatment for their early cervical cancer – one of many caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Women aged 26 to 34, who were ineligible for the ACA’s DCE program, showed no significant increase in early-stage cervical cancer diagnoses.