Strong Connection Between the ACA and Early Detection of Cervical Cancer

Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act — more commonly referred to as Obamacare—has had a significant impact on women’s health. The 2010 law required that plans for woman weren’t spiked in comparison to men, or what was once a very common industry practice. In addition, access to health measures, like mammograms and counseling/resources for domestic violence, were infused into all plans.

Another component of the Affordable Care Act gave young people the opportunity to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they reached 26 years of age. This made it possible for a ton more young people to have access to much-needed insurance. From 2010 to 2014, there was a 4 million decrease in the number of uninsured Americans aged 19-25.

This change has impacted the number of early detections for cervical cancer in young women. The American Cancer Society (ACS) used the National Cancer Data Base to look at cases from two age groups: 21-25 and 26-34. This study was aptly timed for the younger group, as in late 2009 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended women get checked for cervical cancer starting at 21.

Early detection for cervical cancer is essential because it provides the best chance for remission and is the easiest to treat. Not to mention, early detection increases the likelihood that a woman will be fertile after treatment has been completed.

In 2009, there was a 68% rate for early detection, and in 2011 that rate increased to 84% for women in the 21-25 age group. There was a slight dip in 2012 to 72%, but researchers say that this is insignificant and is likely the result of previous early detections. For the 26-34 age group, there weren’t any statistically significant findings.

As the age group that experienced the most change in detections was the age group that was impacted the most by the law that said children could stay on their parents’ plans until they reached 26 years of age (and this trend was seen with a large amount of data), it is clear that a link is present.

The researchers found the link between early detection for cervical cancer and the Affordable Care Act as something unique and important. “It’s a very remarkable finding, actually,” Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, a researcher who worked on the study, told The New York Times.

Beyond early detection for cervical cancer, the Affordable Care Act has made healthcare more accessible to young people. When someone has access to insurance, there are more likely to schedule appointments and see healthcare professionals. In turn, young people have the resources to live a healthy life that wouldn’t be nearly as accessible without the Affordable Care Act.

In the future, it’s likely that there will be new links found between increased access to much-needed healthcare and overall health rates in the United States. New studies will shed more light on the impact of health laws, such as the Affordable Care Act, in the future. Perhaps good health and good laws can go together in a complementary way.