The association between health care coverage and the use of cancer screening tests. Results from the 1992 National Health Interview Survey

Med Care. 1998 Mar;36(3):257-70. doi: 10.1097/00005650-199803000-00004.


Objectives: The authors investigated whether utilization of six different cancer screening tests (mammography, clinical breast exam, Pap smear, Fecal Occult Blood Test, and Digital rectal exam) varied according to type of health care coverage.

Methods: Data on the use of cancer screening tests and coverage in two age groups from a 1992 nationally representative cross-sectional survey of approximately 9,400 adults were analyzed. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to estimate proportions of persons screened according to type and extent of coverage, adjusted for socioeconomic, demographic, and health status characteristics.

Results: Persons aged 40 to 64 years with Medicaid coverage were equally as likely to receive five of six cancer screening tests as those with private fee-for-service coverage, and both groups were much more likely to be screened (70% higher for all six tests) than those who had no coverage. In contrast, persons aged 65 years and older who had supplemental private fee-for-service insurance in addition to Medicare were more likely to receive five of six tests than those with Medicare and Medicaid or those with Medicare only. For all six screening tests, managed care enrollees at all ages were approximately 10% more likely to be screened than persons enrolled in private fee-for-service plans. Fecal Occult Blood Test (25% versus 20%) and digital rectal exams (44% versus 38%) in persons aged 40 to 64 years and mammography (59% versus 48%) and Fecal Occult Blood Test screening (38% versus 30%) in the elderly were significantly more frequent for persons in managed care plans.

Conclusions: The extent of fee-for-service insurance coverage in the traditional indemnity US health care system was positively associated with the use of cancer screening tests. The authors found less difference in use of cancer screening between managed care and fee-for-service care in 1992 than we expected based on earlier research comparing use of preventive services in health maintenance organizations with fee-for-service care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fee-for-Service Plans / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage / statistics & numerical data*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / economics
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medicaid / statistics & numerical data
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / economics*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology