Introduction: Cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates in the United States have decreased 67% over the past 3 decades, a reduction mainly attributed to widespread use of the Papanicolaou (Pap) test for cervical cancer screening. In the general population, receipt of cervical cancer screening is positively associated with having health insurance. Less is known about the role insurance plays among women seeking care in community health centers, where screening services are available regardless of insurance status. The objective of our study was to assess the association between cervical cancer screening and insurance status in Oregon and California community health centers by using data from electronic health records.
Methods: We used bilevel log-binomial regression models to estimate prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals for receipt of a Pap test by insurance status, adjusted for patient-level demographic factors and a clinic-level random effect.
Results: Insurance status was a significant predictor of cervical cancer screening, but the effect varied by race/ethnicity and age. In our study uninsured non-Hispanic white women were less likely to receive a Pap test than were uninsured women of other races. Young, uninsured Hispanic women were more likely to receive a Pap test than were young, fully insured Hispanic women, a finding not previously reported.
Conclusion: Electronic health records enable population-level surveillance in community health centers and can reveal factors influencing use of preventive services. Although community health centers provide cervical cancer screening regardless of insurance status, disparities persist in the association between insurance status and receipt of Pap tests. In our study, after adjusting for demographic factors, being continuously insured throughout the study period improved the likelihood of receiving a Pap test for many women.