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Higher-Income Uninsured Lack Preventive Screening

Bigger paycheck does not improve uninsured adults' access to preventive tests for cancer or diabetes

TUESDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- A higher income does not ensure that adults without health insurance will receive needed screening tests for cancer, diabetes and heart disease, according to a study published in the May 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Joseph S. Ross, M.D., of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues analyzed self-reported 2002 data on preventive screening, care and counseling received by a nationally representative sample of 194,943 adults.

Overall, 51 percent of appropriate patients had colorectal cancer screening, 88 percent had cervical cancer screening tests, 38 percent received weight-loss counseling, and 81 percent took aspirin to help prevent heart disease. About a third of diabetic patients had a pneumococcal vaccine and 88 percent had their glycosylated hemoglobin measured. Health insurance and household income affected access to health care, but higher household incomes did not give uninsured adults greater access to screening for cancer, heart disease or diabetes.

"The results of our study suggest that [health care] reforms may increase the number of adults not receiving recommended health care; adults using out-of-pocket funds to purchase health care services…may not purchase recommended chronic and preventive care at levels comparable with adults enrolled in traditional health insurance plans," the authors write.

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