Patients with cancer who are dual-eligible Medicare beneficiaries are less likely to receive recommended chemotherapy compared to those with other types of supplemental Medicare coverage, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Joan Warren, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, and fellow colleagues examined 1,200 Medicare patients that were diagnosed with various forms of cancer from 2000 to 2005 as part of a retrospective, observational study. They cross-examined patient data acquired from the NCI’s Patterns of Care Studies with SEER-Medicare data in order to determine supplemental insurance status of each patient.
They found that dual-eligible patients with cancer were significantly less likely to receive chemotherapy compared to those Medicare patients covered under private insurance.
In addition, patients who were only covered under Medicare and saw an oncologist were found to have comparable rates of chemotherapy with Medicare patients who had private insurance.
“With the increasing number of Medicaid patients under the Affordable Care Act, there will be a need for patient navigators and sufficient physician reimbursement so that low-income patients with cancer will have access to oncologists and needed treatment,” the authors concluded.
This study examines the association between type of supplemental insurance coverage and receipt of chemotherapy among Medicare patients with cancer who, per National Comprehensive Cancer Network treatment guidelines, should generally receive chemotherapy. Dual-eligible Medicare beneficiaries received recommended cancer chemotherapy less frequently than other Medicare beneficiaries.