Researchers from the American Cancer Society wanted to examine whether the expansion of health insurance among young American women was leading to more early-stage diagnoses. Early diagnosis improves the prospects for survival because treatment is more effective and the chance of remission is higher. It also bolsters women’s chances for preserving their fertility during treatment. And women with health insurance are far more likely to get a screening that can identify cancer early. Researchers used the National Cancer Data Base, a hospital-based registry of about 70 percent of all cancer cases in the United States. They compared diagnoses for women ages 21 to 25 who had cervical cancer with those for women ages 26 to 34, before and after the health law provision began in 2010.
As the Affordable Care Act has taken root, there's been quite a bit of anecdotal evidence pointing to people whose lives were saved -- quite literally -- by the law's existence. But at this point, we're also able to measure the ACA's efficacy beyond just the anecdotes.
The New York Times reported on a substantial increase in the number of young women who've been diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer, and there doesn't seem to be much of a mystery to explain the trend. Because "Obamacare" covers young adults before their 26th birthday, the percentage of uninsured 19- to 25-year-olds has plummeted.
You can probably guess what that means: more young women are able to see a doctor, more doctors are able to do cancer screenings, and more exams are detecting cancer at early stages. From the Times' report:
The results painted a striking picture of increased early-stage diagnoses among the younger group, with no meaningful change in the older group.
One of the researchers, Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, said the effect of the Affordable Care Act is hard to miss, leading to results he described as "very remarkable."
For the ACA's proponents, it's additional evidence to suggest the law is literally a life-saver, and for the ACA's opponents, it's another challenge in explaining why the law must be destroyed in its entirety, regardless of the consequences.