Insurance type may affect quality of surgical care, study finds

Patients with private insurance were more likely to receive surgical care at high-volume hospitals than those who were underinsured or insured by Medicare or Medicaid, according to a study published in the American Cancer Society's peer-reviewed journal, Cancer.

The study included 1,279,738 patients who had a confirmed diagnosis of breast, prostate, lung or colorectal cancer between 2004 and 2016. Researchers concluded that those who were underinsured or insured through Medicare or Medicaid were less likely to receive surgical care at a high-volume hospital. 

The odds of receiving surgical care at high-volume hospitals has improved for colorectal cancer patients since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, according to the study. 

"Ultimately, if patients with private insurance get care at better hospitals, then they will have better outcomes," Quoc-Dien Trinh, MD, senior author of the study and surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told EurekAlert. "Policy needs to address these issues urgently, otherwise insurance-based disparities will persist or get worse." 

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