Title

The association between insurance type and cost-related delay in care: a survey

Author Department

Healthcare Quality; Medicine

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date

7-2017

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Massachusetts has insurance rates similar to those projected under the Affordable Care Act, but many of the state's patients are insured through private insurance plans with high out-of-pocket costs. We aimed to explore the relationship between insurance type (private vs public) and delays in care due to cost, stratified by income.

STUDY DESIGN:

Cross-sectional study.

METHODS:

We conducted a study of English-speaking adults recruited from the waiting rooms of the emergency department or outpatient clinics of a large healthcare system in western Massachusetts. Our primary outcome was the association between insurance type and cost-related delay in care, stratified by income.

RESULTS:

Of 800 individuals approached, 619 (77%) completed the survey. Participants were 60.6% male and 40.2% white, 37.2% Hispanic, and 12.6% black. The majority (61.4%) of those surveyed had public insurance, 34.1% had private insurance, and 4.5% were uninsured. Overall, 13.3% reported delays in seeking care that were related to cost. The impact of insurance on delay of care differed significantly by income tertile (P = .02): in the middle-income group ($12,500 to <$25,000 per person annually), privately insured respondents were more likely to delay care due to cost compared with publicly insured subjects (15.6% vs 8.1%; odds ratio [OR], 4.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.9-10.2, unadjusted; OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 0.9-5.8, adjusted).

CONCLUSIONS:

Cost-related delays in care are prevalent despite the presence of an insurance mandate. Middle-income, privately insured patients report more cost-related delays in care compared with publicly insured patients with similar incomes.