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Researchers study health impact of work-based insurance
Study aims to determine if women with work-based plans miss or delay treatment
Irvine, Calif., October 25, 2007
UC Irvine economics professor David Neumark was recently awarded part of a $2.3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to examine potential harmful health effects of employee-contingent health insurance plans, particularly on women with breast cancer.
The study will look at employed, married women newly diagnosed with breast cancer to compare the health treatment and adherence to treatment of women with employee-contingent health insurance (ECHI) and women with spouse-sponsored health plans.
Neumark, who has been awarded a $350,000 subcontract of the $2.3 million grant, will work with principal investigator Cathy Bradley of Virginia Commonwealth University to build upon their previous research on labor market outcomes for men and women with cancer. During the course of their research, they identified evidence suggesting women with ECHI were less likely to take time away from work for health related issues. This evidence, along with anecdotal interview evidence from their research, suggested these women may not be getting needed medical care.
Neumark and Bradley will use medical records and interviews to determine if women forego medical treatment because of work obligations and what the implications may be for their health.
“Criticisms of employee-based health plans have, for the most part, focused on a person’s ability to secure insurance based upon employment status,” Neumark said. “Ours is one of the first studies to take a different approach, focusing on the potential health consequences of these types of plans.”
If their research proves women with ECHI miss or delay medical treatment because they must continue to work in order to stay insured, it could result in the development of better medical treatment options for working women, Neumark said. On a broader level, such findings could be used to support the argument for universal health coverage over the current system of employer-sponsored health plans.
The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, will cover a five-year period.
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