The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, appears to have positive impact on Hispanic women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Findings of a new study that used data from a cancer center in California revealed that following the implementation of the ACA, more Hispanic women received treatment for breast cancer and enrolled in clinical trials.
Chloe Lalonde, who was clinical research coordinator at the Moores Cancer Center of the University of California, San Diego at the time of the study, said that the increase could be due to patients who now have insurance but were previously uninsured before the ACA took effect.
For the study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, Sept. 25, Lalonde and colleagues looked at the number of Hispanic women who were newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
The researchers compared the number of Hispanic patients who received care before and after Obamacare was implemented.
They focused on patients who were treated over the period covering January 2010 and 2013 and compared their number to women who received treatment between January 2014 and December 2015.
The researchers also looked at the number of Hispanic women who volunteered to be part of clinical trials for breast cancer treatment before and after the ACA took effect, noting the importance of having diverse patient populations in clinical trials.
Figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that in 2013, Hispanic women had the third highest breast cancer rate in the U.S. White women had the highest incidence of breast cancer followed by black women.
They found that prior to the implementation of the health reform law, Hispanic women only made up about 10 percent of breast cancer patient populations, but this increased to 16 percent after the ACA was implemented.
The researchers also found that more Hispanic women started participating in clinical trials after the implementation of the Obamacare. Prior to implementation, Hispanic women made up about 12 percent of participants in a clinical trial involving first-line chemotherapy, but this rose to 22 percent after Obamacare.
The number of Spanish-speaking women participating in the clinical trials also rose six-fold.
While a causal relationship was not established, the researchers said health policies can have a significant impact on cancer patients' access to care.
"While the law is not perfect, it will significantly improve the health care system and save lives," Maureen Killackey, Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey said.