Health insurance coverage and medical care utilization among working-age Americans with visual impairment

Ophthalmic Epidemiol. 1994 Mar;1(1):41-52. doi: 10.3109/09286589409071444.


As access and cost of medical care emerge as the fundamental issues in the discussion of reforming the nation's health care system, more attention needs to be devoted to the understanding of how visual impairment and functional disability in general affects an individual's access to health insurance as well as medical care utilization. Based on the 1984 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), we estimate that only 57.5% of 7.0 million working-age (15-64 years old) visually impaired Americans, compared with 79.0% of those not visually impaired, have private health insurance coverage. Moreover, an estimated 1.5 million visually impaired working-age Americans are not covered by any form of health insurance, public or private. This 20.7% uninsurance rate is significantly higher than the 14.1% reported among those who are not visually impaired (p < 0.001). Multivariate logistic regression also supports the inverse association between visual impairment and insurance coverage. On the other hand, multivariate logistic regression suggests a positive association between visual impairment and utilization of outpatient medical services. Although there is a trend toward higher utilization of inpatient services as well among the visually impaired, the finding is not statistically significant. These findings suggest that visual impairment poses a barrier to accessing health insurance, even when controlling for income, education, and employment status. On the other hand, regardless of the health insurance status, visually impaired Americans are likely to have utilized more physician services, but not the hospital services, than the non-visually impaired.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Medical Assistance / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vision Disorders / epidemiology*