Universal Healthcare, Medicaid, and Cancer – by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at BlogHer)
I’m not sure how much we really needed a study to determine that uninsured people are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer too late to be treated successfully. In most cases, a person actually needs to see a doctor to be diagnosed with a disease. So, is anyone surprised to find out that poor, uninsured people, aren’t going to the doctor? I didn’t think so. The only thing this study does do, is underscore the healthcare crisis we are currently facing (with 47 million Americans uninsured), and the need for all Americans to have access to quality healthcare. However, in order to prevent this study from being used as an argument for some type of universal healthcare…Medicaid has been thrown into the mix.
Here is an example from The New York Times, of how the news of this new study is being reported…
A nationwide study has found that the uninsured and those covered by Medicaid are more likely than those with private insurance to receive a diagnosis of cancer in late stages, often diminishing their chances of survival.
Cleverly, someone decided to throw a monkey wrench into this study, by comparing having no insurance at all, to having Medicaid. I say “cleverly”, because without that little snip-it of information, this study would appear to be the perfect argument for universal healthcare. But now some can argue, that Medicaid is a government program that isn’t working…So, how could the government ever be capable of implementing a healthcare program that would work?
Researchers say the findings should have important implications for the nation’s health care system and policy decisions about health care reform.
Here is what Jude, from First Draft thinks, in a post titled “Two Americas“…
Now, this might not be the biggest revelation ever, but it seems that people who don’t pay a lot for their health care get lesser-quality care. I can hear the wingers already screaming that this is obviously a failure of public insurance, as private insurance leads to better care.
I admit, I know very little about Medicaid, but when you dig a little deeper into the reporting of this study, it appears there is more to the “Medicaid” aspect then meets the eye.
This study seems to find that having Medicaid is still better than being one of the 47 million that are uninsured…
Results showed that uninsured patients were 90% more likely and Medicaid patients were 40% more likely to be diagnosed with stage II than stage I disease compared with those who had either private insurance or Medicare (difference not significant between the two latter groups).
And, are the Medicaid patients in this study mostly from nursing homes? If so, this study on Medicaid and nursing homes seems to indicate the problem is more to do with the actual care being given in nursing homes, and less to do with being insured with Medicaid.
A study in the January 2008 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests that Medicaid patients in nursing home care receive limited cancer services. While the prevalence of cancer in nursing home patients is 1 in 10, according to Dr. Bradley and coauthors this population has received little attention in outcomes research.
The report concludes that nursing home patients had a preponderance of late or unstaged disease, high mortality with a few months of diagnosis, low hospice use, and very little cancer-directed treatment, even among patients with early stage cancer where treatment can alleviate symptoms.
I’m pointing these discrepancies out because – If this study is really going to be used to help determine our country’s healthcare policy, then we need to understand a few things. Most importantly, that the problems facing Medicaid are much different than the problems facing any plan to insure the uninsured. In other words…Don’t use statistics on orange trees, to determine whether or not to grow an apple tree.
Health Insurance only for the Healthy — If 47 million uninsured Americans is not high enough a number of vulnerable people who often do not visit the doctor soon enough to receive an early cancer diagnosis leading to a higher cancer survival rate, Blue Cross of California is looking to increase the number of uninsured — with the help of doctors.
Sweet Surrender — C is for CANCER
Anyway, I still don’t know what this post is really about, I guess it could mean different things to different people. If you have good insurance it may mean one thing…but if you have a parent in a nursing home, or are uninsured yourself, probably something totally different. What does this information mean to you? Will these issues have any affect on how you vote in November?
Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
CatherineBlogs, The Political Voices of Women, Care2 Election Blog