According to a new study from researchers in the University of Maryland School of Public Health, uninsured adults receive preventive services below the recommended guidelines set by Healthy People 2020, the 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans set by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The researchers also found that uninsured African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to use some preventive care services than uninsured whites.
Led by Mr. Craig D. Holden, a PhD candidate in the department of health services administration, the research examined the use of preventive health services by uninsured adults to determine whether use of services varied race/ethnicity or household income level. The use of preventive services, such as immunizations, cancer screenings, blood pressure checks, and routine physicals, can lead to improved health and enable adults to live longer, healthier lives.
The research team, which also included Assistant Professors Dr. Jie Chen and Dr. Rada K. Dagher, used 2004-2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data to analyze the use of eight U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations by the uninsured.
The study found:
Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the article is one of few to examine the use of preventive care among the uninsured, for which medical issues are typically discovered at a more advanced state than in insured populations.
“The insured and uninsured populations are different – they have different demographic and personal characteristics and use the health care system in dramatically dissimilar ways. Past research among populations with health insurance has found minorities generally less likely than whites to access preventative care services,” study author Mr. Craig D. Holden said. “Understanding what sets the uninsured population apart can help policymakers and other stakeholders understand what factors and policy levers can be used to move the uninsured toward equitable health service utilization.”
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all people to have health insurance. In a solid step toward prevention, the law requires coverage of preventive care services in government subsidized and private health plans without additional cost sharing.
“As more uninsured people obtain health insurance through the ACA, health care systems will need to adapt to meet increased demand for preventive health care services,” said Mr. Holden.