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Surveillance for health care access and health services use, adults aged 18–64 years — Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 2014
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Details:
  • Corporate Authors:
    National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (U.S.)
  • Description:
    Problem/Condition: As a result of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, millions of U.S. adults attained health insurance coverage. However, millions of adults remain uninsured or underinsured. Compared with adults without barriers to health care, adults who lack health insurance coverage, have coverage gaps, or skip or delay care because of limited personal finances might face increased risk for poor physical and mental health and premature mortality.

    Period Covered: 2014.

    Description of System: The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is an ongoing, state-based, landline- and cellular-telephone survey of noninstitutionalized adults aged ≥18 years residing in the United States. Data are collected from states, the District of Columbia, and participating U.S. territories on health risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, health care access, and use of clinical preventive services (CPS). An optional Health Care Access module was included in the 2014 BRFSS.

    This report summarizes 2014 BRFSS data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia on health care access and use of selected CPS recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force or the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices among working-aged adults (aged 18–64 years), by state, state Medicaid expansion status, expanded geographic region, and federal poverty level (FPL). This report also provides analysis of primary type of health insurance coverage at the time of interview, continuity of health insurance coverage during the preceding 12 months, and other health care access measures (i.e., unmet health care need because of cost, unmet prescription need because of cost, medical debt [medical bills being paid off over time], number of health care visits during the preceding year, and satisfaction with received health care) from 43 states that included questions from the optional BRFSS Health Care Access module.

    Results: In 2014, health insurance coverage and other health care access measures varied substantially by state, state Medicaid expansion status, expanded geographic region (i.e., states categorized geographically into nine regions), and FPL category. The following proportions refer to the range of estimated prevalence for health insurance and other health care access measures by examined geographical unit (unless otherwise specified), as reported by respondents. Among adults with health insurance coverage, the range was 70.8%–94.5% for states, 78.8%–94.5% for Medicaid expansion states, 70.8%–89.1% for nonexpansion states, 73.3%–91.0% for expanded geographic regions, and 64.2%–95.8% for FPL categories. Among adults who had a usual source of health care, the range was 57.2%–86.6% for states, 57.2%–86.6% for Medicaid expansion states, 61.8%–83.9% for nonexpansion states, 64.4%–83.6% for expanded geographic regions, and 61.0%–81.6% for FPL categories. Among adults who received a routine checkup, the range was 52.1%–75.5% for states, 56.0%–75.5% for Medicaid expansion states, 52.1%–71.1% for nonexpansion states, 56.8%–70.2% for expanded geographic regions, and 59.9%–69.2% for FPL categories. Among adults who had unmet health care need because of cost, the range was 8.0%–23.1% for states, 8.0%–21.9% for Medicaid expansion states, 11.9%–23.1% for nonexpansion states, 11.6%–20.3% for expanded geographic regions, and 5.3%–32.9% for FPL categories. Estimated prevalence of cancer screenings, influenza vaccination, and having ever been tested for human immunodeficiency virus also varied by state, state Medicaid expansion status, expanded geographic region, and FPL category.

    The prevalence of insurance coverage varied by approximately 25 percentage points among racial/ethnic groups (range: 63.9% among Hispanics to 88.4% among non-Hispanic Asians) and by approximately 32 percentage points by FPL category (range: 64.2% among adults with household income <100% of FPL to 95.8% among adults with household income >400% of FPL). The prevalence of unmet health care need because of cost varied by nearly 14 percentage points among racial/ethnic groups (range: 11.3% among non-Hispanic Asians to 25.0% among Hispanics), by approximately 17 percentage points among adults with and without disabilities (30.8% versus 13.7%), and by approximately 28 percentage points by FPL category (range: 5.3% among adults with household income >400% of FPL to 32.9% among adults with household income <100% of FPL).

    Among the 43 states that included questions from the optional module, a majority of adults reported private health insurance coverage (63.4%), followed by public health plan coverage (19.4%) and no primary source of insurance (17.1%). Financial barriers to health care (unmet health care need because of cost, unmet prescribed medication need because of cost, and medical bills being paid off over time [medical debt]) were typically lower among adults in Medicaid expansion states than those in nonexpansion states regardless of source of insurance. Approximately 75.6% of adults reported being continuously insured during the preceding 12 months, 12.9% reported a gap in coverage, and 11.5% reported being uninsured during the preceding 12 months. The largest proportion of adults reported ≥3 visits to a health care professional during the preceding 12 months (47.3%), followed by 1–2 visits (37.1%), and no health care visits (15.6%). Adults in expansion and nonexpansion states reported similar levels of satisfaction with received health care by primary source of health insurance coverage and by continuity of health insurance coverage during the preceding 12 months.

    Interpretation: This report presents for the first time estimates of population-based health care access and use of CPS among adults aged 18–64 years. The findings in this report indicate substantial variations in health insurance coverage; other health care access measures; and use of CPS by state, state Medicaid expansion status, expanded geographic region, and FPL category. In 2014, health insurance coverage, having a usual source of care, having a routine checkup, and not experiencing unmet health care need because of cost were higher among adults living below the poverty level (i.e., household income <100% of FPL) in states that expanded Medicaid than in states that did not. Similarly, estimates of breast and cervical cancer screening and influenza vaccination were higher among adults living below the poverty level in states that expanded Medicaid than in states that did not. These disparities might be due to larger differences to begin with, decreased disparities in Medicaid expansion states versus nonexpansion states, or increased disparities in nonexpansion states.

    Public Health Action: BRFSS data from 2014 can be used as a baseline by which to assess and monitor changes that might occur after 2014 resulting from programs and policies designed to increase access to health care, reduce health disparities, and improve the health of the adult population. Post-2014 changes in health care access, such as source of health insurance coverage, attainment and continuity of coverage, financial barriers, preventive care services, and health outcomes, can be monitored using these baseline estimates.

    Suggested citation for this article: Okoro CA, Zhao G, Fox JB, Eke PI, Greenlund KJ, Town M. Surveillance for Health Care Access and Health Services Use, Adults Aged 18–64 Years — Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 2014. MMWR Surveill Summ 2017;66(No. SS-7):1–42. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6607a1.

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