The following article features coverage from the American Head & Neck Society (AHNS) 2018 meeting. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) improved health care accessibility among patients with head and neck cancer, though only in states that expanded Medicaid eligibility, according to data presented at the 2018 American Head & Neck Society Annual Meeting in National Harbor, Maryland.1

Many patients are without coverage or adequate coverage at the time of diagnosis. Health care coverage status has implications for treatment decisions and outcomes in head and neck cancer.

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For this study, investigators accessed the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database to determine the impact of the ACA on access to care among 89,038 patients diagnosed with aerodigestive head and neck cancer between 2007 and 2014. The insurance rates before and after the Medicaid expansion, subsidies for insurance premiums, requirement for coverage, and opening of the health care marketplace — all provisions of the ACA — were evaluated.

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The rate of Medicaid coverage increased significantly post-ACA: the coverage rate was 16.4% after the ACA was implemented compared with 14.1% pre-implementation (P < .001); the rate of coverage for private insurance increased to 80.8% from 76.6% (P < .001). The rates of uninsured patients decreased by nearly 50%, from 4.8% to 2.7% (P < .001), after January 2014.

These findings were, however, significant only in states that expanded Medicaid (P < .001).

Survival outcomes were available only between 2007 and 2013. Uninsured status was associated with worse 5-year disease-specific survival (72% vs 57%) and overall survival (63% vs 49%) compared with insured status.

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of the American Head & Neck Society (AHNS) 2018 meeting by visiting the conference page.


  1. Cannon RB, Carpenter P, McCrary HC, et al. The impact of the affordable care act on insurance coverage for head and neck cancer: a population-based analysis. Oral presentation at: 2018 American Head & Neck Society Annual Meeting; April 18-19, 2018; National Harbor, MD.