MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jeffrey Rhoades, Ph.D.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Dr. Rhoades: The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) – Household Component (HC) which began in 1996 and is administered annually collects data from a sample of families and individuals in selected communities across the United States, drawn from a nationally representative subsample of households that participated in the prior year’s National Health Interview Survey (conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics).
During the household interviews, MEPS collects detailed information for each person in the household on the following: demographic characteristics, health conditions, health status, use of medical services, charges and source of payments, access to care, satisfaction with care, health insurance coverage, income, and employment.
The panel design of the survey, which features several rounds of interviewing covering two full calendar years, makes it possible to determine how changes in respondents’ health status, income, employment, eligibility for public and private insurance coverage, use of services, and payment for care are related.
Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Dr. Rhoades: In 2013, Hispanics were more likely to be uninsured for the entire year or sometime during the year than other racial/ethnic groups.
In 2013, persons living in the South and West regions were more likely to be uninsured for the entire year or sometime during the year than people living in the Northeast or Midwest.
Approximately 50 percent of individuals with the lowest hourly wage (less than $10 per hour) were uninsured sometime during the year in 2013. This fraction decreased with increasing wages.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Rhoades: Health insurance helps people get timely access to medical care and protects them against the risk of expensive and unanticipated medical events. Estimates of the health insurance status of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population are critical to policymakers and others concerned with access to medical care and the cost and quality of that care. The uninsured population is dynamic, with a substantial number of people gaining and losing coverage in any given year, thus, the importance of considering the duration of uninsurance.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Rhoades: The uninsured population is fluid, with many people gaining and losing coverage in a given year. The annual fielding of the MEPS-HC will allow for following changes over time.
Jeffrey Rhoades, Ph.D. (2015). Hispanics Most Likely To Lack Medical Insurance