Universal access increased CRC screening rates among minorities — 4 insights

Colorectal cancer screening rates increased when people had universal access to healthcare, according to a study published in Cancer.

Researchers examined CRC screening rates in an equal-access military health system to examine the impact of universal healthcare. They used Tricare claims data for 24,944 patients from 2007 to 2010 and followed the patients for four years to identify their first lower endoscopy or fecal occult blood test. About 69.2 percent of the patients were white, 20.3 percent were black, 4.9 percent were Asian and 5.6 percent were other races.

Here's what researchers found:

1. Fifty-four percent of the patients underwent screening. Of that subset, 83.7 percent received an endoscopy and 16.3 percent received a fecal occult blood test.

2. Black patients had higher screening rates (56.5 percent) and higher risk-adjusted odds of being screened.

3. Asian patients had a screening rate about equal to white patients.

4. Females, active-duty personnel and military officers were more likely to be screened.

Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, of University of California Los Angeles, told Cancer Network, "They found that black/white disparities seen in typical healthcare settings do not exist when there is universal healthcare. A universal healthcare system might be beneficial to increase utilization of preventive services like colorectal cancer screening and might help mitigate healthcare disparities that we currently see in screening."

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