MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Renuka Tipirneni, MD, MSc
Holder of the Grace H. Elta MD Department of Internal Medicine Early Career Endowment Award 2019-2024
University of Michigan Department of Internal Medicine
Divisions of General Medicine and Hospital Medicine, and
Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Navigating health insurance and health care choices is challenging and requires significant health insurance literacy (knowledge and application of health insurance concepts). We looked at the association between U.S. adults’ health insurance literacy and avoidance of health care services due to perceived cost.
We found that 30% of people we surveyed reported delayed or foregone care because of perceived cost, and that those with lower health insurance literacy reported significantly greater avoidance of both preventive and nonpreventive health care services.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: These findings suggest that health insurance literacy is important for patients, not only while selecting a health plan, but also in health care navigation and uptake of recommended health services. To our knowledge, this study presents some of the first evidence on the importance of considering health insurance literacy in relation to health care navigation and use.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future research should examine potential drivers of foregone care among those with lower health insurance literacy as potential targets for intervention.
To improve appropriate use of recommended health services, including preventive health services, clinicians, health plans, and policymakers should adopt communication strategies that make health insurance concepts accessible to patients, regardless of their health insurance literacy, and improve patients’ understanding of services exempt from out-of-pocket costs.
Tipirneni R, Politi MC, Kullgren JT, Kieffer EC, Goold SD, Scherer AM. Association Between Health Insurance Literacy and Avoidance of Health Care Services Owing to Cost. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(7):e184796. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.4796
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