Understanding the associations of alterations in insurance coverage with access and affordability is especially relevant with recent unemployment increases.
Many workers in the United States have experienced alterations in health insurance coverage during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Interruptions in coverage are especially common among the poor and those with Medicaid coverage.
Even brief interruptions in coverage can have a significant impact on health, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Previous studies found that a single loss of coverage of one month or more was associated with being less likely to have a regular place for care, have worse access to care, higher use of care services. emergencies and a decline in overall health.
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The recent study found that:
- Overall, 5% of adults currently insured with private and 11-year-old and public insurance reported a coverage outage the previous year, which accounted for about 9.1 million adults in 2018.
- Among those currently uninsured, 25% reported loss of coverage during the previous year, which accounted for about 8.1 million adults in 2018.
- Among adults with current public or private coverage, outages were associated with lower reception of all preventive services; with waiving any necessary care due to cost; and with non-adherence to medications due to cost, compared to adults with continuous coverage.
- Longer interruptions among insured adults today were significantly associated with poorer access to care, reception, and affordability, with patterns of dose response.
- Currently uninsured adults, especially those with longer uninsured periods, reported significantly worse access, reception, and affordability to care than currently insured adults with coverage or continued coverage changes.
Understanding the associations of alterations in insurance coverage with access and affordability is especially relevant with recent increases in unemployment due to the pandemic and widespread loss of employer-based private coverage , the main source of private coverage for the working age population.
“This study found strong and consistent associations of coverage disorders with access and reception of preventive care and affordability in multiple measures among adults ages 18 to 64 in the United States,” the researchers concluded. “These findings are especially relevant with widespread unemployment and loss of employer-based health insurance coverage as part of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Longitudinal studies evaluating the effects of coverage interruptions on access, reception, affordability and health outcomes of care will be important to inform about the development of future health insurance policies ”.