Prostate Cancer

Access Denied: The Relationship Between Patient Insurance Status and Access to High‐volume Hospitals

Background Underinsured patients face significant barriers in accessing high‐quality care. Evidence of whether access to high‐volume surgical care is mediated by disparities in health insurance coverage remains wanting.


Methods The authors used the National Cancer Data Base to identify all adult patients who had a confirmed diagnosis of breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer during 2004 through 2016. The odds of receiving surgical care at a high‐volume hospital were estimated according to the type of insurance using multivariable logistic regression analyses for each malignancy. Then, the interactions between study period and insurance status were assessed.


Results In total, 1,279,738 patients were included in the study. Of these, patients with breast cancer who were insured by Medicare (odds ratio [OR], 0.75; P < .001), Medicaid (OR, 0.55; P < .001), or uninsured (OR, 0.50; P < .001); patients with prostate cancer who were insured by Medicare (OR, 0.87; P = .003), Medicaid (OR, 0.58; P = .001), or uninsured (OR, 0.36; P < .001); and patients with lung cancer who were insured by Medicare (OR, 0.84; P = .020), Medicaid (OR, 0.74; P = .001), or uninsured (OR, 0.48; P < .001) were less likely to receive surgical care at high‐volume hospitals compared with patients who had private insurance. For patients with colorectal cancer, the effect of insurance differed by study period, and improved since 2011. For those on Medicaid, the odds of receiving care at a high‐volume hospital were 0.51 during 2004 through 2007 and 0.99 during 2014 through 2016 (P for interaction = .001); for uninsured patients, the odds were 0.45 during 2004 through 2007 and 1.19 during 2014 through 2016 (P for interaction < .001) compared with patients who had private insurance.


Conclusions Uninsured, Medicare‐insured, and Medicaid‐insured patients are less likely to receive surgical care at high‐volume hospitals. For uninsured and Medicaid‐insured patients with colorectal cancer, the odds of receiving care at high‐volume hospitals have improved since implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Junaid Nabi MD, MPH, Karl H. Tully, MD Alexander P. Cole, MD, Maya Marchese, MS, Eugene B. Cone MD, Nelya Melnitchouk, MD, MSc, Adam S. Kibel, MD, Quoc‐Dien Trinh, MD

Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Center for Surgery and Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Source: Nabi J, Tully KH, Cole AP. "Access Denied: The Relationship Between Patient Insurance Status and Access to High‐volume Hospitals." Cancer. 2020. https://doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33237

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