Rationale: Medical treatment can improve quality of life and avert exacerbations for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) can increase exposure to medical costs, and might compromise healthcare access and financial well-being for patients with COPD.Objectives: To examine the association of HDHPs with healthcare access, utilization, and financial strain among individuals with COPD.Methods: We analyzed privately insured adults aged 40-64 years with COPD in the 2011-2017 National Health Interview Survey, which uses Internal Revenue Service-specified thresholds to classify health plans as "high" or "traditional" deductible coverage. We assessed the association between enrollment in an HDHP and indicators of cost-related impediments to care, financial strain, and healthcare utilization, adjusting for potential confounders.Results: Our sample included 803 individuals with an HDHP and 1,334 with a traditional plan. The two groups' demographic and health characteristics were similar. Individuals enrolled in an HDHP more frequently reported delayed or foregone care, cost-related medication nonadherence, medical bill problems, and financial strain. They also more frequently reported out-of-pocket healthcare spending in excess of $5,000 a year. Although the two groups' office visit rates were similar, those enrolled in an HDHP were more likely to report a hospitalization or emergency room visit in the past year.Conclusions: For patients with COPD, enrollment in an HDHP was associated with cost-related barriers to care, financial strain, and more frequent emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; healthcare disparities; healthcare financing; medication adherence.
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