ATLANTA — The American Cancer Society has awarded Georgia State economist Michael Pesko and a team of researchers across four universities and a government agency more than $700,000 to study the effect of eliminating health insurance cost-sharing on the use of cancer prevention and early detection (CPED) services offered by private health insurance plans.
“Cancer kills 600,000 Americans every year,” Pesko said. “Although cancer screenings and prevention efforts could prevent thousands of deaths, utilization remains below recommended levels, with cost often cited as a major barrier. Our study will provide a clearer picture of the effect of eliminating costs on CPED use.”
Pesko, as principal investigator, will lead the new four-year research collaboration with health economists Catherine Maclean of George Mason University, Georgia State alumnus Benjamin Ukert (Ph.D. ’16) of Texas A&M, and Stephen Hill of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ); surgery oncologist Julie Sosa of the University of California San Francisco; and data scientist Serena Phillips of Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.
The Affordable Care Act in 2011 implemented new rules requiring insurers to offer, at no cost to patients, CPED services that receive a grade of A or B from the United States Preventive Services Task Force. This includes colorectal cancer screenings, mammograms, lung cancer testing for people with long smoking histories, genetic testing for breast cancer risks, breast cancer prevention medications, and smoking and alcohol cessation programs. Pesko and his team will examine the effect of eliminating cost-sharing for these services, particularly for individuals in high-deductible health insurance plans in which patients previously paid large out-of-pocket costs to use these services.
“We hope to determine whether the reduction in cost-sharing improves the use of these services in cost-effective ways,” Pesko said.
The new award follows a 2016 grant the American Cancer Society made to Pesko and his team to evaluate provisions of the Affordable Care Act that affect tobacco users. The research team has published multiple articles in journals such as Health Affairs, Health Services Research and Health Economics from this earlier-funded research.
Department of Economics
Michael Pesko is a health economist and a Research Fellow with the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA). He uses retrospectively collected data and quasi-experimental methods to evaluate health policy changes and is particularly interested in policy changes affecting the use of e-cigarettes (see e-cigarette research summary).
Pesko has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers in top health economics, health policy and labor economics journals. His research has been supported by externally generated funds exceeding $4.5 million since 2016, including from the National Institutes of Health and American Cancer Society.