Recession and High Co-Pays Tied to Colonoscopy Decrease

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine found that during the recession, continuously insured Americans underwent fewer screening colonoscopies, a cost-effective, recommended preventive service. The study appears in the March issue of the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

The investigators estimated that during the recession period, dating from December 2007 to June 2009, roughly one- half million fewer Americans covered by commercial health insurance underwent colonoscopy screening for colorectal cancer than expected based on use in the preceding two years.

These time periods were defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the nation’s leading nonprofit economic research organization and the official arbiter for dating recessions.

The study of 50 to 64 year olds also found a strong link between direct out-of-pocket (OOP) costs for this elective procedure and whether or not patients were more likely to get screened as their doctors recommended.

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