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Health Insurance Coverage Changes Don't Change Behaviors

Gain in coverage linked to increased odds of preventive care; doesn't impact health behaviors

MONDAY, Dec. 2, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Change in health insurance coverage is associated with a change in adherence to preventive care, but is not associated with a change in health behaviors, according to a study published in the November-December issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Anthony Jerant, M.D., from the University of California Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento, and colleagues examined the correlation between health insurance change with changes in preventive care and health behaviors. The authors used data for 76,518 adults aged 18 years and older and enrolled for two years in the 2000 to 2009 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys.

The researchers found that gain of insurance coverage correlated with increases in preventive care (influenza vaccine adjusted odds ratio, 1.27; colorectal cancer screening adjusted odds ratio, 1.48; Papanicolaou testing adjusted odds ratio, 1.56; mammography adjusted odds ratio, 1.70; and prostate-specific antigen adjusted odds ratio, 1.42). There were no significant changes in health behaviors (becoming non-obese, quitting smoking, and adopting consistent use of seatbelts) seen with changes in insurance coverage.

"In a large, nationally representative sample, individual gain (loss) of health insurance was associated with increased (decreased) adherence to preventive care," the authors write. "In contrast, individual change in health insurance status was not associated with significant changes in health behaviors."

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