Inequities in health services among insured Americans: Do working-age adults have less access to medical care than the elderly?
Health Services Accessibility
To determine whether groups other than the elderly and the uninsured have difficulty obtaining access to medical care, we studied 7633 adults nationwide. As we expected, the insured had much greater access than the uninsured, but among the insured there were substantial disparities in access to care. Insured adults of working age were 3.5 times as likely (95 percent confidence interval, 2.7 to 4.4) as the elderly to have needed supportive medical services (including medications and supplies) but not to have received them, and 3.4 times (2.3 to 4.4) as likely to have had major financial difficulties because of illness. Among insured, working-age adults, the poor were 4.4 times (3.5 to 5.3) as likely as those who were not poor to have needed supportive services but not to have received them, and 5.2 times (3.6 to 6.8) as likely to have had major financial problems because of illness. Apart from insurance status and income, blacks were 1.7 times (1.1 to 2.2) as likely as whites to have needed supportive services but not to have received them. Hispanics with a medical illness were 2.2 times (1.3 to 3.2) as likely as whites not to have seen a physician within the past year. We conclude that insured, working-age adults have less access to medical care than the elderly, and that poor, black, or Hispanic persons in this group are at risk for even greater problems with access to care. Current policy strategies are unlikely to improve the ability of these groups to obtain care.