Lowering Medicare eligibility may improve cancer outcomes


Manage episode 292800784 series 2818636
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"I think we need to step back first before we even ask the policy question and ask this simple question, is it okay in the United States to die of cancer simply because you don't have health insurance?" - Dr. Gerard Silvestri

Cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States. Although there have been declines in cancer deaths in recent years, improvements have not been equally distributed across the population.

The risk of cancer increases with age and nearly a quarter of all new cancers diagnosed each year in the US occur among those aged 55 to 64 years old. At age 65, most Americans gain Medicare coverage, creating a ready comparison of cancer outcomes between those just below age 65 — who may have private insurance, Medicaid, or are uninsured — and those above 65 who are on Medicare.

The relationship between insurance coverage and cancer outcomes is the subject of this episode of A Health Podyssey.

Dr. Gerard Silvestri, a professor of thoracic oncology at the Medical University of South Carolina, joins the program to discuss a paper he and co-authors published in the May 2021 issue of Health Affairs wherein they found significantly worse survival rates for uninsured patients ages 60 to 64 in comparison to Medicare beneficiaries.

Listen to Alan Weil interview Gerard Silvestri on cancer outcomes among Medicare beneficiaries and their younger, uninsured counterparts.

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