Friday, April 24, 2009

Study supports universal coverage to reduce health disparities

Industry News | Healthcare Finance News

Universal coverage could help "significantly" reduce health disparities, according to a Commonwealth Fund-supported study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study, by J. Michael McWilliams, MD, Ph.D., and colleagues at Harvard University, found that Medicare coverage makes a difference in the health of racial, ethnic and challenged socio-economic populations for patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Based on the study, the authors believe that universal coverage may reduce these types of health disparities in the general population.

The authors reviewed health data from more than 6,000 people aged 40 to 85 with at least one of the following conditions: diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease or stroke. They found that while overall improvements have been made in controlling the diseases, racial, ethnic and socioeconomic differences have remained the same or in some cases worsened in the pre-Medicare population.

However, at age 65, when people become eligible for healthcare coverage under the Medicare program, those differences were reduced significantly. The study found that for blood sugar levels with diabetes, educational disparities decreased by 83 percent, while racial and ethnic disparities fell by 78 percent. For total cholesterol levels, educational disparities disappeared altogether. And, for systolic blood pressure, racial disparities decreased by 60 percent.

"The results of this study make it clear that guaranteeing access to affordable insurance for all Americans is the essential first step toward a high performing healthcare system and a healthier America," said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. "As our leaders look toward health reform it is critical that they take into account the value of healthcare coverage for everyone and ensure that all Americans have the ability to obtain insurance."

No comments:

Post a Comment