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Public Health Reports: Two-Year Stability and Change in Access to and Reasons for Lacking a Usual Source of Care among Working-Age U.S. Adults

In a recent article in Public Health Reports, Dr. Michelle Stransky from Tufts University School of Medicine, Public Health Program investigated the trends of having usual source of care (USC) – a provider or place consulted when a person is sick or in need of medical advice – in a nationally representative sample of working-age adults. She used the longitudinal data from two waves (2011 – 2012 and 2012 – 2013) of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The study population was divided into three groups based on USC questions asked during these two waves: (1) those who had a USC during both waves, (2) those who did not have a USC during either wave, and (3) those who gained or lost their USC between the two waves. During a two-year period, nearly two-thirds of participants reported always having a USC, 18 percent reported never having a USC, and nearly 19 percent reported that their USC had changed (i.e., that they either lost or gained a USC). Those who reported changing their USC had different sociodemographic and health characteristics than those who reported never or always having a USC. The author concludes that government policies and programs should be sensitive to the differences between those who change their USC and those who have never had a USC.

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