A lack of health insurance is responsible for lower cancer early detection rates among unemployed adults


In a recent study, the unemployed were less likely to have health insurance and be informed about the recommended cancer screening tests. Analysis found that the lack of health insurance coverage was entirely responsible for the lower screening rates. The results are published online by Wiley in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal from the American Cancer Society.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment rates in the United States rose to levels not seen since the Great Depression. To examine the relationship between unemployment, health insurance, and cancer screening, Stacey Fedewa, PhD, of the American Cancer Society, and colleagues analyzed information from adults under 65 who participated in the National Health Interview Survey 2000-2018, a nationally representative survey that have responded annual survey of the population.

Unemployed adults were four times more likely to be uninsured than employed adults (41.4% versus 10.0%). A smaller proportion of unemployed adults had current cervical cancer (78.5% versus 86.2%), breast cancer (67.8% versus 77.5%), colon cancer (41.9% versus 48.5%) and prostate cancer (25 , 4 versus 36.4%) get sieving. These differences were eliminated after taking health insurance coverage into account.

“People who were unemployed at the time of the survey were less likely to have a recent cancer screening test and were less likely to be up-to-date with their cancer screenings over the long term. This suggests that unemployment at a single point in time can hinder both newer and potentially longer-term screening practices, “said Dr. Fedewa. This can increase a person’s risk of developing late-stage cancer that is more difficult to treat is as cancer that is recognized at an early stage.

Our finding that insurance coverage fully addresses the lower cancer check-up usage by unemployed adults is potentially good news because it is changeable. When people are unemployed and have health insurance, their screening rates are similar to those of working adults. “

Stacey Fedewa, PhD, American Cancer Society

The results point to the importance of insurance coverage so that individuals can get the recommended cancer screening tests and show that greater efforts are required to provide insurance to everyone regardless of their employment status.


Journal reference:

Fedewa, SA, et al. (2021) Unemployment and Cancer Screening: Baseline Healthcare Information Estimates in the Context of the Economic Emergency of COVID-19. cancer. doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33966.

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