Post-ACA, cancer tests up

More young women are opting to screen for cervical cancer, according to a recent study.

Bessma Dabaan

More young women are screening for cervical cancer now that the Affordable Care Act promises health care coverage under a parent until age 26.
 
After the 2010 change, the percentage of young women who screened for cervical cancer rose to just more than 70 percent in 2012. Since then, some experts say earlier detection has saved lives.
 
The American Cancer Society found there has been a 7 percent increase in early cervical cancer detection in women ages 21 to 25 since the act went into effect. The society published its results in the Journal of the American Medical Association late last month.
 
“The Affordable Care Act helped younger college-aged females, because most of them were not on a great insurance plan,” said Matt Flory, health systems manager for Minnesota chapter of  the American Cancer Society.
 
Some young women think their insurance won’t cover screenings like Pap smears, Flory said, though the American Cancer Society has upped its efforts to educate on the Affordable Care Act change.
 
The increase in screenings doesn’t mean cervical cancer is on the rise in young and college-aged women, though, said Carol Nelson, a women’s clinic physician with Boynton Heath Services.
 
“We did not see a massive jump of new females coming into our clinic after the change of the Affordable Care Act,” she said. 
 
“But that is only because here at the University, we require health insurance for everyone.”
 
An American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists policy change in 2009 recommended women refrain from Pap smear screenings until reaching 21 years of age. Nelson said Boynton follows those guidelines.
 
“We recommend starting a screening at the age of 21, then once every three years after that date,” she said. “This way, females are able to be on track and not be caught in any surprises as they age.” 
 
Low risk of getting cervical cancer shouldn’t keep women from taking of insurance-covered screenings, Flory said.
 
“By getting a Pap smear, they are able to catch any problems before they become complicated,” he said.
 
Cell biology and development senior and the University’s Colleges Against Cancer President Eric Noll said he thinks asking a physician health-related questions is the best
way to learn about issues like cervical cancer.
 
“The Affordable Care Act is great because it allows young females to get resources that were never available to them before, like some cancer medications that are now affordable,” he said.