The cost of insuring the uninsured in the U.S.
Objectives: This study included two overarching objectives. Through a systematic review of the literature published between 1990 and 2012, the first objective aimed to assess whether insuring the uninsured would result in higher costs compared to insuring the currently insured. Studies that quantified the actual costs associated with insuring the uninsured in the U.S. were included. Based upon 2009 data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), the second objective aimed to assess and compare the self-reported health of populations with four different insurance statuses. The second part of this study involved a secondary data analysis of both currently insured and currently uninsured individuals who participated in the MEPS in 2009. The null hypothesis was that there were no differences across the four categories of health insurance status for self-reported health status and healthcare service use. The alternative hypothesis was that were differences across the four categories of health insurance status for self-reported health status and healthcare service use. Methods: For the systematic review, three databases were searched using search terms to identify studies that actually quantified the cost of insuring the uninsured. Thirteen studies were selected, discussed, and summarized in tables. For the secondary data analysis of MEPS data, this study compared four categories of health insurance status: (1) currently uninsured persons who will become eligible for Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) healthcare reforms in 2014; (2) currently uninsured persons who will be required to buy private insurance through the PPACA health insurance exchanges in 2014; (3) persons currently insured under Medicaid or SCHIP; and (4) persons currently insured with private insurance. The four categories were compared on the basis of demographic information, health status information, and health conditions with relatively high prevalence. Chi-square tests were run to determine if there were differences between the four groups in regard to health insurance status and health status. With some exceptions, the two currently insured groups had worse self-reported health status compared to the two currently uninsured groups. Results: The thirteen studies that met the inclusion criteria for the systematic review included: (1) three cost studies from 1993, 1995, and 1997; (2) four cost studies from 2001, 2003, and 2004; (3) one study of disabilities and one study of immigrants; (4) two state specific studies of uninsured status; and (5) two current studies of healthcare reform. Of the thirteen studies reviewed, four directly addressed the study question about whether insuring the uninsured was more or less expensive than insuring the currently insured. All four of the studies provided support for the study finding that the cost of insuring the uninsured would generally not be higher than insuring those already insured. One study indicated that the cost of insuring the uninsured would be less expensive than insuring the population currently covered by Medicaid, but more expensive to insure than the populations of those covered by employer-sponsored insurance and non-group private insurance. While the nine other studies included in the systematic review discussed the costs associated with insuring the uninsured population, they did not directly compare the costs of insuring the uninsured population with the costs associated with insuring the currently insured population. For the MEPS secondary data analysis, the results of the chi-square tests indicated that there were differences in the distribution of disease status by health insurance status. As anticipated, with some exceptions, the uninsured reported lower rates of disease and healthcare service use. However, for the variable attention deficit disorder, the uninsured reported higher disease rates than the two insured groups. Additionally, for the variables high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and joint pain, the currently insured under Medicaid or SCHIP group reported a lower rate of disease than the two currently insured groups. This result may be due to the lower mean age of the currently insured under Medicaid or SCHIP group. Conclusion: Based on this study, with some exceptions, the costs for insuring the uninsured should not exceed healthcare-related costs for insuring the currently uninsured. The results of the systematic review indicated that the U.S. is already paying some of the costs associated with insuring the uninsured. PPACA will expand health insurance coverage to millions of Americans who are currently uninsured, as the individual mandate and insurance market reforms will require. Because many of the currently uninsured are relatively healthy young persons, the costs associated with expanding insurance coverage to the uninsured are anticipated to be relatively modest. However, for the purposes of construing these results, it is important to note that once individuals obtain insurance, it is anticipated that they will use more healthcare services, which will increase costs. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
Public policy|Health care management
Ricketts, Jeannie M, "The cost of insuring the uninsured in the U.S." (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1534008.