More breast cancer patients underwent reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy following enactment of the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act in January 1999, according to a study published in the journal Cancer.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania looked at how the legislation, which requires that health insurance plans that cover the cost of a mastectomy also cover the cost of reconstructive surgery, affected a patient’s decision to undergo breast reconstruction. They identified 168,236 patients from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database who underwent a mastectomy for cancer between 2000 and 2009 and classified them by their immediate breast reconstruction status (IBR).
They found that the rate of IBR for women with Medicaid increased from 5% in 2000 to 20% in 2009. Additionally, the rate of IBR increased from 4.3% in 2000 to 12.3% in 2009 for women with Medicare and from 22.1% to 57.1% for women with private insurance. The researchers also found that women with private insurance were more likely to undergo reconstructive surgery than women without it.
“After the enactment of policy designed to improve access to IBR, Medicaid and Medicare patients experienced the greatest relative increase in rates of IBR,” the authors wrote in the study abstract. “Although policy changes had the most impact on traditionally underserved populations, disparities still exist. Future studies should endeavor to understand why such disparities have persisted.”
For more information:
Yang RL. Cancer. 2013. doi: 10.1002/cncr.28050.