Objective: To compare the extent and types of health insurance coverage for adults with diabetes to coverage for those without diabetes in the U.S. population.
Research design and methods: Nationally representative samples of 2,405 adults with diabetes and 20,131 adults who were not known to have diabetes in the U.S. completed a questionnaire on current health insurance, including coverage through Medicare, private insurance, the military, and Medicaid and other public programs.
Results: Among all adults with diabetes, 92.0% have some form of health insurance, including 86.5% of those 18-64 years of age and 98.8% of those > or = 65 years of age. Approximately 41% are covered by more than one health insurance mechanism, but almost 600,000 people with diabetes do not have any form of health-care coverage. Little difference was found by type of diabetes in the proportion who have health insurance. Only small differences exist between people with diabetes and those without diabetes in the percentages covered and the types of health-care coverage. Government-funded programs are responsible for health-care coverage of 57.4% of adults with diabetes, including 26.4% of those 18-64 years of age and 96.0% of those > or = 65 years of age. Private health insurance is held by 69.3% of diabetic people. Lack of private insurance appears to be attributable primarily to lower income.
Conclusions: Almost all patients with diabetes who are > or = 65 years of age have health-care coverage, but 13.5% of those 18-64 years of age have no health insurance. Few differences exist in coverage between individuals with and without diabetes. However, the absence of insurance should have a substantially greater impact on the ability of patients with diabetes to obtain services necessary for care of their disease, compared with those without diabetes. Government-funded insurance mechanisms cover a large proportion of diabetic patients, which indicates a significant societal burden associated with diabetes. Any changes in government reimbursement and coverage policies could have a major impact on health care for patients with diabetes.