Questions for Anjel Vahratian, Supervisory Statistician (Health) and Lead Author on “Utilization of Clinical Preventive Services for Cancer and Heart Disease Among Insured Adults: United States, 2015”
Q: Why did you decide to look at clinical preventive services for cancer and heart disease among insured adults?
AV: Heart disease and cancer are the top two leading causes of death in the United States. The clinical preventive services discussed in this report are recommended for the prevention or early detection of heart disease and cancer. We limited our analysis to insured adults because most insurance plans were required to cover these clinical preventive services without co-payment from the insured adult in 2015.
Q: What did your report find out about cancer screenings among insured adults?
AV: In 2015, two-thirds of insured adults aged 50-75 were screened for colorectal cancer within the recommended intervals, and screening was significantly associated with age for both men and women. Insured women aged 50-59 were more likely to be screened for colorectal cancer compared with men of the same age. Among insured women, more than 8 out of 10 of those aged 21-65 had been screened for cervical cancer, and nearly 3 out of 4 of those aged 50-74 had been screened for breast cancer within the recommended intervals.
Q: What did your report find out about heart disease screenings among insured adults?
AV: In 2015, more than 8 in 10 insured adults aged 18 and over had their blood pressure checked by a doctor or other health professional, and about 2 in 3 overweight and obese insured adults aged 40-70 had a fasting blood test for high blood sugar or diabetes in the past 12 months. Receipt of these services increased with advancing age and varied by sex. Insured women aged 18-39 and 40-64 were more likely than their male peers to have their blood pressure checked in the past 12 months, and insured overweight and obese women aged 40-49 were more likely than men of the same age and BMI to have a fasting blood test or diabetes in the past 12 months.
Q: Was there a specific finding that you found surprising?
AV: It was surprising that only 49.5% of overweight and obese insured men aged 40-49 had a fasting blood test for diabetes in the past 12 months. Diabetic adults are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and overweight and obesity and abnormal blood glucose are modifiable cardiovascular risk factors.
Q: What is the take home message of this report?
AV: Utilization of clinical preventive services aimed at the early detection of cancer and cardiovascular disease varied by sex and age among insured adults. Insured adults in their 40s and 50s were less likely than those in their 60s to be screened for colorectal cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Limited knowledge about the recommendations for clinical preventive services may prevent eligible adults from seeking out timely preventive care.