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Medicaid Expenditures for Cancer: Evidence from Medicaid-only Beneficiaries in Four States

Florence K Tangka, susan Haber, susan Sabatino, David Howard, Sujha Subramanian


This study estimates the cost burden of 6 prevalent invasive cancers—breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, melanoma, and prostate—on Medicaid programs in 4 states. The analyses use Medicaid claims and enrollment data for all Medicaid-only beneficiaries over age 18 in Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, and Maine with at least 1 month of enrollment in fee-for-service Medicaid from 2000 to 2003. We applied ordinary least squares regression analysis to a data set created from Medicaid claims and enrollment data to estimate annual expenditures attributable to each cancer after controlling for age, race, gender, and comorbid conditions. Cancers and comorbid conditions were identified on the basis of claims with an appropriate diagnosis code. Cancers include both incident and prevalent cases. In 2003 dollars, annualized Medicaid expenditures attributable to the 6 cancers combined in the Medicaid-only population were $84.0 million in Georgia, $79.7 million in Illinois, $51.4 million in Louisiana, and $29.4 million in Maine. Attributable annualized per-capita Medicaid expenditures were highest for lung cancer, then colorectal cancer. After adjusting for sociodemographics and comorbidities, only 10% to 50% of medical expenditures among Medicaid-only beneficiaries with cancer were attributable to cancer. Estimates of the costs of care for Medicaid-eligible cancer patients are critical to understanding the implications of cancer for state and federal budgets. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 is expected to substantially expand the adult Medicaid population. These estimates provide important baseline information for assessing the potential effects of increased Medicaid enrollment on Medicaid expenditures for cancer.


Cancer treatment costs; Medicaid

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