Friday, August 21, 2015

Report shows uninsured Texans are twice as likely to delay seeking primary care, mental health care

Public Release: 20-Aug-2015
Report shows uninsured Texans are twice as likely to delay seeking primary care, mental health care

Rice University

Texans without health insurance are twice as likely to skip seeking primary and mental health care because of cost. That's one of the findings of a new survey released today by Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Episcopal Health Foundation.

The report found that in the past year 32 percent of uninsured adult Texans said they had skipped primary care due to costs, compared with 16 percent of adults who have health insurance. When it comes to mental health care or counseling, 12 percent of uninsured Texans said they had delayed care, compared with 6 percent of adults with insurance.

"Lack of access to affordable primary and mental health care services are well-documented problems for all Texans, especially the uninsured," said Elena Marks, president and CEO of the Episcopal Health Foundation and a nonresident health policy fellow at the Baker Institute. "In the case of primary care, the uninsured may be waiting to seek care when they're sicker and need more intensive and expensive care. That's concerning because basic health care services are usually less expensive and can help prevent more serious health problems. Untreated mental illness is also associated with a number of adverse outcomes, including physical illness."

Researchers found both insured and uninsured Texans were the most likely to forgo dental care - 34 percent of the uninsured and 23 percent of those with insurance said they skipped dental care due to costs.

"This isn't surprising because most insurance plans don't include coverage for dental care," said Vivian Ho, the chair in health economics at Rice's Baker Institute and director of the institute's Center for Health and Biosciences, a professor of economics at Rice and a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. "The Affordable Care Act does not require dental care coverage in Marketplace plans. As with other services, lack of insurance coverage is associated with skipping care."

It's also no surprise that uninsured Texans said they had more trouble paying the bill when they do seek medical care. The survey found that 28 percent of uninsured adults said they had trouble paying medical bills in the past year, compared with 18 percent of insured Texans who said they had the same difficulties.


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