Effectiveness of Medicare cost-sharing elimination for Cancer screening on utilization

Wendy Yi Xu, Thomas M. Wickizer, Jeah Kyoungrae Jung

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5 Scopus citations


Background: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) eliminated the cost-sharing requirement for several preventive cancer screenings. This study examined the cancer screening utilization of mammogram, Pap smear and colonoscopy in Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) under the ACA. Methods: The primary data were the 2007-2013 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey linked to FFS claims. The effect of the cost-sharing removal on the probability of receiving a preventive cancer screening test was estimated using a logistic regression, separately for each screening test, adjusting for the complex survey design. The model was also separately estimated for different socioeconomic and race/ethnic groups. The study sample included beneficiaries with Part B coverage for the entire calendar year, excluding beneficiaries in Medicaid or Medicare Advantage plans. Beneficiaries with a claims-documented or self-reported history of targeted cancers, who were likely to have diagnostic tests or have surveillance screenings were excluded. The screening measures were constructed separately following Medicare coverage and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations. We measured the screening utilization outcome drawing from claims data, as well as using the self-reported survey data. Results: After the cost-sharing removal policy, we found no statistically significant difference in a beneficiary's probability of receiving a colonoscopy (transition period: OR = 1.08, 95% CI = 0.90-1.29; post-policy period: OR = 1.08, 95% CI = 0.83-1.42), a mammogram (transition period: OR = 1.03, 95% CI = 0.91-1.17; post-policy period: OR = 1.07, 95% CI = 0.88-1.30), or a biennial Pap smear (transition period: OR = 0.87, 95% CI = 0.69-1.09; post-policy period: OR = 0.72, 95% CI = 0.51-1.03) in claims-based measures following Medicare coverage. Similarly, we found null effects of the policy change on utilization of colonoscopy among enrollees 50-75 years old, biennial mammograms by women 50-74, and triennial Pap smear tests among women 21-65 in claims-based measures according to USPSTF. The findings from survey-based measures were consistent with the estimates from claims-based measures, except that the use of Pap smear declined since 2011. Further, the policy change did not increase utilization in patients with disadvantaged socioeconomic characteristics. Yet the disparate patterns in adjusted screening rates by socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity persisted over time. Conclusions: Removing out-of-pocket costs for screenings did not provide enough incentives to increase the screening rates among Medicare beneficiaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number392
JournalBMC health services research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 17 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


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