Health Care Reform Increases Thyroidectomy Rates for Thyroid Cancer

HealthDay News — Implementation of the 2006 Massachusetts health reform, which is a model for the Affordable Care Act, correlated with an increased rate of thyroidectomy for treating thyroid cancer, according to a study published online in JAMA Surgery.

Andrew P. Loehrer, MD, MPH, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues used data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality State Inpatient Databases to identify patients who were admitted to a hospital with thyroid cancer and underwent thyroidectomy between 2001 and 2011 in Massachusetts (8,534 patients) and three control states (48,047 patients). The authors examined the correlation between the 2006 Massachusetts health care reform and thyroid cancer treatment.

The researchers found that patients with government-subsidized or self-pay insurance had lower thyroidectomy rates for thyroid cancer in Massachusetts and control states than patients with private insurance before the 2006 Massachusetts insurance expansion. Compared with control states, the Massachusetts insurance expansion was associated with significantly increased rates of undergoing a thyroidectomy and neck dissection (incident rate ratios, 1.26 and 1.21, respectively) for treating cancer.

“Our study suggests that insurance expansion may be associated with increased access to the surgical management of thyroid cancer,” the authors write. “Further studies need to be conducted to evaluate the effect of health care expansion at a national level.”

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Loehrer AP, Murthy SS, Song Z, Lubitz CC, James BC. Association of insurance expansion with surgical management of thyroid cancer [published online April 5, 2017]. JAMA Surg. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2017.0461