All State Medicaid programs must offer the vaccines recommended by the (Federal) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, under the Vaccines for Children program. The States don’t have to mandate the vaccine, however.
Some of the docs I’ve talked to are convinced that Medicaid and uninsured patients will have an easier time accessing and affording Gardasil than insured patients – unless the insurance companies are forced to cover it somehow.
I predict that within just 2 or 3 years, the private insurers will see that the girls who receive the vaccine don’t have to have nearly as many repeat paps, fewer colposcopies and biopsies. Eventually, in 5 or 6 years, there will be fewer freezing and laser therapy treatments. Somewhere in there, they will begin to cover and strongly encourage the vaccine, without being forced.
It turns out that the transition from infection with the more virulent strains to a precancerous or even carcinoma intraepithelial neoplasm (cancerous cells in the surface layer – the kind that leads to repeat pap smears, colposcopy and biopsies and then freezing or laser ablation or removal of the surface layer of the cervix. The pathology-reported names given to these spots on the cervix include “Low Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions, High Grade SIL, Carcinoma in Situ ) can occur within 2 to 3 years, although most take 10 years or so.
From an article available here, free on line,
The traditional view has been that this process takes years, if not decades, to occur after initial HPV infection. Recent studies suggest that these changes may develop more quickly than previously thought. Winer et al followed women after initial HPV infection for the development of CIN 2/3.
As shown in Figure 3, approximately 27% of women with an initial HPV 16 or 18 infection progressed to CIN 2/3 within 36 months . A second study of a large health maintenance cohort found that approximately 20% of women 30 years of age or older who were initially infected with HPV 16 developed CIN 3 or cervical cancer within 120 months.
Women who had an initial HPV 18 infection had approximately a 15% risk of developing CIN 3 or cervical cancer at 120 months .
The strong correlation between infection with high-risk types of HPV and LSIL, HSIL, and cervical cancer suggests that HPV DNA testing would be a useful tool for the management of women with abnormal Pap test results, especially in the case of those with equivocal test results. In the case of an equivocal Pap test result, HPV DNA testing can help determine whether the individual should be referred for colposcopic assessment .
(Ault, Kevin. “Epidemiology and Natural History of Human Papillomavirus Infections in the Female Genital Tract.” Infect Dis Obstet Gynecol. 2006; 2006: 40470. Published online 2006 January 30. doi: 10.1155/IDOG/2006/40470. Copyright © 2006 Kevin A. Ault.)
The biggest financial gain to the Medicaid program and then the insureres – as well as the biggest gain in decreased worry and actual pain and suffering of women – will not be from a decrease in diagnoses of the cancer, itself. It will be from the decrease in the visible warts, as well as precancerous changes from the occult infections that can’t be seen with the naked eye and the repeat testing and biopsies, along with the cervical damage from excisions, lasers and freezing which can lead to infertility and premature births.