Privately insured pediatric cancer patients survive longer than uninsured peers

The average length of survival for these patients varies by insurance coverage, according to a study published in the journal Cancer.

For the study, researchers analyzed data compiled from 2007 to 2009 by 18 registries participating in the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results cancer statistics reporting program.

The study included data on 8,219 pediatric cancer patients. The average survival period was 1.32 months shorter for uninsured children and 0.62 months shorter for children with Medicaid, compared to patients with private insurance. Additionally, children who were uninsured displayed a 26 percent higher risk of cancer death than privately insured patients. The risk of death among Medicaid patients was similar to the risk experienced by privately insured patients.

"Our findings support the idea that Medicaid is comparable to private insurance for kids with cancer, meaning that, in this setting at least, it is not inferior," said Kimberly Johnson, PhD, one of the study's authors and a public health professor at Washington University in St. Louis. "This contributes to policy discussion on Medicaid expansion by providing evidence that public outlays on Medicaid are well spent."

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