Uninsured Americans with Chronic Health Conditions

Key Findings from the National Health Interview Survey

When people with chronic conditions lack insurance, what impact can it have on their access to care? Using recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics' National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the researchers quantified the number of uninsured adults with chronic conditions, overall and by race and ethnicity, and examined whether they experience gaps in their access to care. Researchers further examined access problems faced by uninsured adults with different chronic health problems. Results include:

  • Nearly half of all uninsured, non-elderly adults report having a chronic condition.
  • Many uninsured adults with chronic conditions do not have a usual source for health care.
  • Almost half of uninsured adults with chronic conditions forgo needed medical care or prescription drugs, due to cost.
  • Uninsured adults with chronic conditions forgo needed medical care and prescription drugs at much higher rates than their insured counterparts.
  • Chronically ill, uninsured adults are far less likely to visit a health professional than their insured counterparts.
  • Uninsured adults with common chronic conditions (diabetes, hypertension, arthritis related conditions, high cholesterol, asthma, and heart disease) suffer serious, identifiable gaps in needed medical care.

The report found overall that uninsured adults with chronic health problems face substantial problems and challenges accessing the health care they need.

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