Objective: To assess whether managed care enrollment or healthcare utilization level among women enrolled in Medicare because of disability affects stage at diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
Study design: Retrospective study using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database. We compared breast cancer stage at diagnosis and treatment among women with disabilities enrolled in Medicare managed care versus fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare. Women enrolled in FFS Medicare were classified into levels of healthcare utilization during the 6 to 18 months before breast cancer diagnosis.
Methods: Controlling for confounders, we used regression models to determine the effects of managed care enrollment and healthcare utilization level on earlier stage at diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
Results: Disabled patients enrolled in FFS Medicare without contact with the healthcare system and those with fewer than 12 physician visits during the 6 to 18 months before breast cancer diagnosis were more likely than disabled patients enrolled in Medicare managed care to be diagnosed as having breast cancer at a late stage. There was no difference between women enrolled in Medicare managed care versus women enrolled in FFS Medicare having at least 12 physician visits during the 12-month period. Breast cancer treatment for women with disabilities did not vary across managed care enrollment or healthcare utilization level.
Conclusion: Managed care enrollment or increased contact with healthcare providers could result in earlier stage at breast cancer diagnosis.