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Association of High-Deductible Health Plans and Time to Surgery for Breast and Colon Cancer.

Sheckter CC, Rochlin DH, Rubenstein R, Shamsunder MG, Morris AM, Wagner TH, Matros E. Association of High-Deductible Health Plans and Time to Surgery for Breast and Colon Cancer. Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 2023 Sep 1; 237(3):473-482.

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BACKGROUND: High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) have been shown to delay timing of breast and colon cancer screening, although the relationship to the timing of cancer surgery is unknown. The objective of this study was to characterize timing of surgery for breast and colon cancer patients undergoing cancer operations following routine screening. STUDY DESIGN: Data from the IBM MarketScan Commercial Claims Database from 2007 to 2016 were queried to identify patients who underwent screening mammogram and/or colonoscopy. The calendar quarters of screening and surgery were analyzed with ordinal logistic regression. The time from screening to surgery (time to surgery, TTS) was evaluated using a Cox proportional hazard function. RESULTS: Among 32,562,751 patients who had screening mammograms, 0.7% underwent breast cancer surgery within the following year. Among 9,325,238 patients who had screening colonoscopies, 0.9% were followed by colon cancer surgery within a year. The odds of screening (OR 1.146 for mammogram, 1.272 for colonoscopy; p < 0.001) and surgery (OR 1.120 for breast surgery, 1.219 for colon surgery; p < 0.001) increased each quarter for HDHPs compared to low-deductible health plans. Enrollment in an HDHP was not associated with a difference in TTS. Screening in Q3 or Q4 was associated with shorter TTS compared to screening in Q1 (hazard ratio 1.061 and 1.046, respectively; p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: HDHPs were associated with delays in screening and surgery. However, HDHPs were not associated with delays in TTS. Interventions to improve cancer care outcomes in the HDHP population should concentrate on reducing barriers to timely screening.

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