A, Adjusted proportion of patients with thyroid cancer enrolled in Medicaid by state Medicaid expansion status. B, Adjusted proportion of T1 and T2 disease among Medicaid enrollees with thyroid cancer by state Medicaid expansions status. Error bars represent 95% CIs. The dotted line represents the January 2014 expansion.
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.
Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.
Err on the side of full disclosure.
If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.
Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.
Schuman AD, Spector ME, Jaffe CA, et al. Changes in Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer Among Medicaid Beneficiaries Following Medicaid Expansion. JAMA Surg. 2020;155(11):1080–1081. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2020.3290
Medicaid expansion has increased cancer screening, leading to increased early-stage cancer diagnosis in patients with Medicaid.1-3 However, while studies exist for many common tumors, the association of Medicaid expansion with thyroid cancer diagnosis appears to be unknown and is important to consider, given rising concerns over overdiagnosis of small tumors with broader screening.4 To determine the outcome of Medicaid expansion, this study analyzed associations between insurance coverage, thyroid cancer diagnosis rates, and tumor size before and after Medicaid expansion.
We identified patients with new diagnoses of well-differentiated (papillary and follicular) thyroid cancer in the National Cancer Database between January 2010 and December 2016. We estimated state populations using US census data from 2010 through 2016. Medicaid enrollee data were obtained from the Medicaid Analytic Extract from January 2010 to December 2012 and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Medicaid Budget and Expenditure System database from January 2014 to December 2016 (the years with available data). This study was deemed exempt from institutional review board review and informed consent procedures by the University of Michigan because all data were deidentified.
Thyroid cancer incidence was calculated from cases in the National Cancer Database, assuming 70% representation.5 To determine change in incidence among Medicaid enrollees, we measured incidence among the Medicaid and non-Medicaid populations of included states. To quantify the difference, the proportion of patients with Medicaid and thyroid cancer who were younger than 65 years, adjusting for sex, race/ethnicity (as found in the National Cancer Database: White, Black, Asian American, Native American, and Hispanic), and local tumor (T) classification, was compared between January 2014 expansion and nonexpansion states using a difference-in-difference analysis. The data were analyzed from May 2019 to September 2019. All data were analyzed in Stata 15.1 (StataCorp). Significance was set at P < .05, 2 tailed.
We identified 246 296 patients with well-differentiated thyroid cancer, of whom 299 168 were women (75.9%) and 205 296 were White (83.5%). The mean incidence of thyroid cancer in nonexpansion states was 10.4 per 100 000 members of the total population in 2010 to 2012 and 10.7 per 100 000 from 2014 to 2016. In nonexpansion states, the unadjusted mean incidence among Medicaid enrollees increased from 1.6 per 100 000 to 2.0 per 100 000, without significant change among patients who did not have Medicaid benefits. In Medicaid expansion states, incidence among Medicaid enrollees increased from 3.2 per 100 000 to 5.6 per 100 000, with a concurrent small increase among the non-Medicaid population (Table).
The adjusted proportion of patients with thyroid cancer enrolled in Medicaid in nonexpansion states was 4.4% (95% CI, 4.1%-4.8%) in 2010 through 2013 and 4.5% (95% CI, 4.1%-4.9%) in 2014 through 2016. In expansion states, the adjusted proportions were 7.3% (95% CI, 7.0%-7.7%) and 12.9% (95% CI, 12.5%-13.3%). Difference-in-difference analysis showed an associated absolute difference of 5.5% (95% CI, 4.8%-6.2%) between expansion and nonexpansion states (Figure, A). The adjusted proportion of T1 and T2 disease among Medicaid enrollees did not change significantly in nonexpansion states (from 19.2% [95% CI, 16.3%-22.1%] in 2010 through 2013 to 17.9% [95% CI, 14.5%-21.2%] in 2014 through 2016) or expansion states (from 15.6% [95% CI, 13.6%-17.8%] to 16.6% [95% CI, 14.7%-18.4%]). Difference-in-difference analysis showed no significant difference (2.1% [95% CI, −3.0% to 7.4%]; Figure, B).
The overall incidence of thyroid cancer increased more in Medicaid expansion states compared with nonexpansion states, with a disproportionate increase among Medicaid patients. The proportion of patients with thyroid cancer covered by Medicaid increased more in Medicaid expansion states compared with nonexpansion states. These findings are similar to other cancers with increased diagnosis after Medicaid expansion.3
Increased coverage could lead to increased incidence by overdiagnosis. However, our analysis showed stable size among Medicaid enrollees, indicating no increase in overdiagnosis. These findings reinforce a study4,6 of Massachusetts health care reform, which showed increased thyroidectomies—and tumors requiring treatment—with increased access to insurance.
Incidence calculation is complicated by the assessment of Medicaid enrollees covered in the National Cancer Database; both children (not included in the sample) and patients eligible for Medicaid and Medicare (counted as Medicare patients in the database) are often included in state Medicaid enrollment data. Also, while these proportions of T1 and T2 disease are low because of missing data, the missingness is not different across states or insurance groups. Despite these limitations, our data showed that Medicaid expansion was associated with an increase in thyroid cancer diagnosis among Medicaid enrollees without a change in tumor size, suggesting appropriate health care utilization.
Accepted for Publication: May 16, 2020.
Corresponding Author: Andrew J. Rosko, MD, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Michigan, 1904 Taubman Center, 1500 E Medical Center Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (email@example.com).
Published Online: September 16, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2020.3290
Author Contributions: Drs Schuman and Rosko had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Concept and design: Schuman, Shuman, Chinn, Rosko.
Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: Schuman, Spector, Jaffe, Chinn, Regenbogen, Rosko.
Drafting of the manuscript: Schuman, Rosko.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.
Statistical analysis: Schuman, Chinn, Rosko.
Obtained funding: Schuman.
Administrative, technical, or material support: Schuman, Rosko.
Supervision: Spector, Shuman, Chinn, Regenbogen, Rosko.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.
Funding/Support: Dr Schuman was supported during this work by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (training grant 5TL1TR002242-02). Dr Chinn was supported by National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute grant K08 17-PAF07511 and University of Michigan/Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health research grant 1KL2TR002241.
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The funder had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.