Study: Health insurance helps detect cancer early in young adults

When teens and young adults have health insurance, they're more likely to be diagnosed early with cancer, a new study from the American Cancer Society found.

The study found uninsured young adults are up to twice as likely to be diagnosed with late-stage cancer than young adults with private insurance. The authors said the results signify that boosting insurance rates among teens and young adults could help improve their cancer survival rates.

"The Affordable Care Act, with its focus on increasing private insurance coverage of young adults aged 19 to 25 and providing certain cancer screenings at no cost to patients, has the potential to make a big impact on this age group," Anthony Robbins, lead author and ACS Director of Health Services Research, said in an statement.

Robbins added that since many states aren't expanding Medicaid, the uninsured rate won't decrease as much as originally expected. And that will "disproportionately impact the adolescent and young adult population, which is the age group most likely to be uninsured."

The study also found that the connection between insurance coverage and early cancer diagnosis was stronger for cancers that can be identified through clear symptoms during routine medical visits, including melanoma, thyroid and breast cancers. However, the key to that cancer diagnosis is for consumers to receive regular care from doctors who know their medical history--something that doesn't happen for uninsured consumers.

To learn more:
- here's the ACS statement and study