Patients delay care until Medicare-eligible, study on cancer diagnoses suggests

A rise in the number of cancer diagnoses seen among those turning 65 indicates patients may be delaying medical care until they are insured through Medicare, according to research published March 29 in Cancer.

Using a national database, researchers from Stanford (Calif.) School of Medicine analyzed hundreds of thousands of lung, breast, colon and prostate cancer diagnoses between 2004-16 among patients aged 61-69.

Findings showed the greatest jump in diagnoses occurred among those turning 65, the age at which a person becomes eligible for Medicare, compared to all other age transitions that were analyzed. The most drastic increase was seen among those with colon cancer. While rates for the cancer steadily increased between 1 percent and 2 percent for people aged 61 to 64, it jumped to nearly 16 percent at age 65. 

Additionally, while lung cancer rates steadily increased between 3 percent and 4 percent among those aged 61-64, it doubled at 65. 

"This suggests that many people are delaying their care for financial reasons until they get health insurance through Medicare" said Joseph Shrager, MD, senior study author and professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford.

To view the full findings, click here. 


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