posted by AHIP
on August 21, 2017
While policymakers and legislators work on ways to best ensure every American has access to affordable coverage and care, there’s one concept that is quite clear: Health care coverage works, and the benefits are multi-faceted. According to a recent analysis in The New England Journal of Medicine, coverage is working for patients, increasing their access to care and improving their financial and mental well-being.
First, and probably most obviously, coverage increases access to care and improves outcomes for those with chronic conditions. The report found that expanding coverage leads to greater access to primary care, more ambulatory visits, increased use of prescription medication, and improved medication adherence. Studies also show a significant increase in the rate of diagnosis of diabetes for those with coverage and a doubling of the use of diabetes medication. Further, those who are covered experience substantial improvements in treating depression, which is a major cause of disability in the United States.
Second, coverage drastically improves patient’s perceptions of their health. In Oregon, there was a 25 percent increase in the likelihood of reporting “good, very good or excellent” when those recently covered were asked about their health status. Many studies have also indicated that improvements in perception of health status are known to be correlated with better patient outcomes.
Finally, the authors of the review conclude, while “there remain many unanswered questions about the U.S. health insurance policy, … whether enrollees benefit from coverage is not one of the unanswered questions.” Coverage increases access to care and improves a wide range of health outcomes. While this very complicated health care policy debate continues, it’s critical to remember that there are enormous individual and societal benefits to ensuring individuals have access to health care coverage.