Men with employment-contingent health insurance (ECHI) who suffer a health shock, such as a cancer diagnosis or hospitalization, are more likely to feel "locked" into remaining at work and are at greater risk for losing their insurance during this critical time as compared to men who are on their spouse's insurance plan or on private insurance plans, according to a new study by Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center.
Published in the International Journal of Health Care and Economics, the study was led by Cathy J. Bradley, M.P.A, Ph.D., RGC Professor for Cancer Research and co-leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control program at VCU Massey Cancer Center and chair of the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research at VCU School of Medicine. The researchers used the Health and Retirement Study surveys (conducted every two years by the University of Michigan of more than 26,000 Americans over the age of 50) from 1996 through 2008 to observe employment and health insurance status among 1,582 men. They focused on the individuals who participated in the interviews two years apart and whether a health shock occurred in the intervening period between the interviews. The results shed light on potential benefits and drawbacks of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
"With the passage of health care reform, the tendency of those with employment-contingent health insurance, as opposed to other sources of insurance, to remain employed following a health shock such as cancer, may be diminished slightly, along with the likelihood of losing health insurance," said Bradley. "The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will provide an option to purchase affordable private insurance and eliminate pre-existing condition clauses, which would be helpful to someone who could no longer work."