High rates of uninsurance in a community can have a “spillover” effect on those with health insurance, affecting their access to care and satisfaction with the kind of care they receive, according to a study published in the journal Medical Care.
Insured can feel impact if others lack coverage: study
Supported by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, researchers from the RAND Corp. and the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles studied 200 metropolitan areas in the U.S. They found that insured residents living in communities with high uninsurance rates were more likely to have unmet medical needs and encounter problems obtaining specialist referrals than those who lived in communities where the percentage of uninsured residents was lower.
Researchers also found that seniors with Medicare coverage who lived in areas with a high rate of uninsurance were more than likely than their counterparts in areas with a low uninsurance rate to report problems getting needed care as well as an unmet need for prescription drugs.
The study's authors noted one limitation of their work is that they focused on the spillover effects only across metropolitan areas.
"It is possible that spillover effects of community uninsurance are influenced to a greater degree by the uninsurance rate in smaller geographic areas—for example, neighborhoods—where people who use the same healthcare providers reside," they concluded.
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