State Medicaid Eligibility and Care Delayed Because of Cost
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA.New England Journal of Medicine (Impact Factor: 55.87). 03/2013; 368(13):1263-1265. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1214874
This study showed wide geographic variation in how often people delayed care because of cost, with prevalence across U.S. counties ranging from 6.5% to 40.6%. Delaying care because of cost was more common in states with more restrictive Medicaid eligibility criteria.
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ABSTRACT: Context: Puerto Rico is the United States' largest territory, home to nearly 4 million American citizens. Yet it has remained largely on the outskirts of US health policy, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This article presents an overview of Puerto Rico's health care system and a comparative analysis of coverage and access to care in Puerto Rico and the mainland United States. Methods We analyzed 2011-2012 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and 2012 data from the American Community Survey and its counterpart, the Puerto Rico Community Survey. Among adults 18 and older, we examined health insurance coverage; access measures, such as having a usual source of care and cost-related delays in care; self-reported health; and the receipt of recommended preventive services, such as cancer screening and glucose testing. We used multivariate regression models to compare Puerto Rico and the mainland United States, adjusted for age, income, race/ethnicity, and other demographic variables. FindingsUninsured rates were significantly lower in Puerto Rico (unadjusted 7.4% versus 15.0%, adjusted difference: -12.0%, p < 0.001). Medicaid was far more common in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican residents were more likely than those in the mainland United States to have a usual source of care and to have had a checkup within the past year, and fewer experienced cost-related delays in care. Screening rates for diabetes, mammograms, and Pap smears were comparable or better in Puerto Rico, while colonoscopy rates were lower. Self-reported health was slightly worse, but obesity and smoking rates were lower. Conclusions Despite its far poorer population, Puerto Rico outperforms the mainland United States on several measures of coverage and access. Congressional policies capping federal Medicaid funds to the territory, however, have contributed to major budgetary challenges. While the ACA has significantly increased federal resources in Puerto Rico, ongoing restrictions on Medicaid funding and premium tax credits are posing substantial health policy challenges in the territory.