More people get screened for cancer when employers are mandated to provide paid sick leave, a new study finds.

For most Americans, the two major obstacles to proper medical care are time and money. And while insurance can sometimes reduce healthcare costs, having time to visit the doctor is just as important.

During a seven-year period covered by the study, breast cancer screening rates increased up to 4% and colorectal cancer screenings increased between 6-8% in areas exposed to policy-driven paid sick leave mandates.

“These non-monetary barriers to healthcare access matter,” says study lead author Kevin Callison, assistant professor of health policy and management at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and The Murphy Institute. “Improving or reducing these barriers can have meaningful impacts on people’s health.”

The US is the only wealthy nation in the world to not federally mandate paid time off for being sick, according to the Center for Economic Policy and Research. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 1 in 4 American workers can’t take a single paid sick day.

For the study, researchers examined changes in breast cancer and colorectal cancer screening rates among 2 million private sector employees from 2012-2019, a time in which several states and cities adopted policies mandating paid sick leave. The workers were spread among 300 metropolitan statistical areas, 61 of which were exposed to a paid sick leave mandate during that timeframe.

Though the increases in screening rates may seem small, these results include workers who already had paid sick leave, meaning they were unlikely to decrease or increase cancer screening habits. If the results were scaled to focus only on workers gaining sick leave for the first time via mandates, Callison estimates that breast cancers screening rates increase 9-12% and colorectal screening rates increase 21-29%.

Read the full article about paid sick leave by Andrew Yawn at Futurity.