Health insurance status and cancer stage at diagnosis and survival in the United States

CA Cancer J Clin. 2022 Nov;72(6):542-560. doi: 10.3322/caac.21732. Epub 2022 Jul 13.


Previous studies using data from the early 2000s demonstrated that patients who were uninsured were more likely to present with late-stage disease and had worse short-term survival after cancer diagnosis in the United States. In this report, the authors provide comprehensive data on the associations of health insurance coverage type with stage at diagnosis and long-term survival in individuals aged 18-64 years who were diagnosed between 2010 and 2013 with 19 common cancers from the National Cancer Database, with survival follow-up through December 31, 2019. Compared with privately insured patients, Medicaid-insured and uninsured patients were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage (III/IV) cancer for all stageable cancers combined and separately. For all stageable cancers combined and for six cancer sites-prostate, colorectal, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, oral cavity, liver, and esophagus-uninsured patients with Stage I disease had worse survival than privately insured patients with Stage II disease. Patients without private insurance coverage had worse short-term and long-term survival at each stage for all cancers combined; patients who were uninsured had worse stage-specific survival for 12 of 17 stageable cancers and had worse survival for leukemia and brain tumors. Expanding access to comprehensive health insurance coverage is crucial for improving access to cancer care and outcomes, including stage at diagnosis and survival.

Keywords: Medicaid; cancer; health insurance; stage; survival.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Insurance, Health*
  • Male
  • Medicaid
  • Medically Uninsured
  • Prostatic Neoplasms*
  • United States / epidemiology