07/12/2010 07:52 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Mammography's Income Gradient

Rich women get more regular cancer screening.

Women with more money are healthier, generally, and new data from the CDC shows a strong relationship between income and regular mammography for women over age 49. (The pattern for education is about the same.)

Because Black women have more breast cancer -- with worse outcomes on average -- than White women, I was expecting a stronger race/ethnicity pattern. Instead, the data show that Black, White, and Asian/Pacific Islander women all have rates over 80 percent. The exception is American Indian women, only 70 percent of whom have had the recommended screening.

The big difference is in having health insurance, not surprisingly. Among those with health insurance, screening is 84 percent; among those without it's just 56 percent. And to make matters more rational -- and less humane -- being married helps, too.

The report concludes:

Health-care reform is likely to increase access by increasing insurance coverage and by reducing out-of-pocket costs for mammography screening. Widespread implementation of evidence-based interventions also will be needed to increase screening rates. These include patient and provider reminders to schedule a mammogram, use of small media (e.g., videos, letters, brochures, and flyers), one-on-one education of women, and reduction of structural barriers (e.g., more convenient hours and attention to language, health literacy, and cultural factors).

Cross posted from the Family Inequality blog.