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Free Cancer Screening: What Should You Know About Affordable Care Act?

New Ruling for ACA That Could Affect Free Cancer Screening (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A federal judge’s ruling could result in more individuals being diagnosed at later stages as it eliminates free cancer screening services of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Affordable Care Act label on the folder. (Photo: Sharecare)

New Ruling for ACA That Could Affect Free Cancer Screening

ACA’s goal is to make more individuals eligible for affordable health insurance, expands Medicaid, and promote new medical care delivery approaches. On Thursday, March 30, US District Court Judge Reed O’Connor invalidated ACA requirements requiring insurers to offer some preventative health care treatments at no cost.

As per NBC News, Dana-Farber Cancer Center chief medical officer Dr. Craig Bunnell believes it could result in more people being diagnosed with cancer at later stages, which need more toxic and less effective treatment. He added that the ruling disregards preventive measures that have been proven effective in preventing cancer.

However, Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) executive vice president for health policy Larry Levitt said that people should not expect any immediate changes that affect free cancer screening since insurance contracts are in place for the calendar year. Insurers are also obligated to provide prior notice of changes in benefits, generally 60 days, Dr. Bunnell explained. Even if insurers make modifications, they are unlikely to discontinue preventative care entirely.

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Late Stage Cancer Cases Could Rise If Free Cancer Screening Is Removed

KFF previously reported that in 2018, an estimated 60% of the 173 million people with private health insurance used at least one of the free cancer screening services mandated by the ACA. Among these cancer screenings are for people in their 40s who have seen an increase in colon cancer in the past 30 years.

Bunnell said that without early cancer screening, those polls can become cancerous or invasive, which will require more extensive surgery, chemotherapy, and increased risk of mortality. For that reason, experts said that all evidence-based cancer screening should be covered by insurance.

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