Having a usual source of care as well as insurance reduces unmet health needs

Research Activities, August 2011, No. 372

The lowest percentage of unmet medical needs among adults, who visited a doctor in the past year and reported need for additional care, was among those having both health insurance and a usual source of care (USC), according to a new study. In contrast, unmet needs were highest for those persons lacking both insurance and a USC.

Jennifer E. DeVoe, M.D., of Oregon Health & Science University, and colleagues analyzed 2002-2007 data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. They estimated that 77 percent of United States adults had a USC and 81 percent had health insurance. However, only 68 percent of U.S. adults had both a USC and insurance, while 10 percent had neither. Compared with persons with a USC and insurance, persons with insurance, but no USC were 27 percent more likely to have problems getting care, tests, or treatment; those with no insurance, but a USC were 63 percent more likely to report these problems; and adults lacking both USC and insurance were twice as likely to report these problems.

Data for the study came from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component, which uses a stratified and clustered random sample from National Health Interview Survey households. The sample of 134,714 people (weighted to represent the United States population) was used for analysis of unmet health care needs among those in the sample who reported having at least one medical appointment in the past 12 months and who reported the need for additional care. The need for care represented: unmet medical needs; unmet prescription needs; problems getting care, tests, or treatment; and delayed urgent care. The study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS16181 and HS18569).

More details are in "The case for synergy between a usual source of care and health insurance coverage," by Dr. DeVoe, Carrie J. Tillotson, M.P.H., Sarah E. Lesko, M.D., M.P.H., and others in the March 16, 2011, Journal of General Internal Medicine 26 [Epub ahead of print].

Current as of August 2011
Internet Citation: Having a usual source of care as well as insurance reduces unmet health needs: Research Activities, August 2011, No. 372. August 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/aug11/0811RA13.html