Introduction: Lack of health insurance coverage has been shown to reduce use of some preventive services. However, even when care is free or fully covered by insurance, clinical preventive services are not used at recommended levels. This study investigates the impact of different levels of health insurance coverage (ranging from none, some, most, and all preventive services covered) on the use of recommended clinical preventive services for adult men and women.
Methods: Logistic regression was used to estimate the effect of different levels of health insurance coverage for preventive care on the probability of receiving six different clinical preventive services including periodic health exam, blood pressure screening, cholesterol screening, Pap smear, clinical breast exam, and screening mammography, as well as all recommended services for a given age and gender group. The study sample of adults ages 18 to 64 is from the Centers for Disease Control's 1991 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) (n = 53,981).
Results: The results demonstrate a positive and statistically significant dose-response relationship between level of health insurance coverage for preventive care and receipt of recommended preventive services in adult men and women. The odds ratios (ORs) of men who had full coverage for preventive care receiving recommended preventive services compared to men with no coverage for preventive care ranged from 1.8 to 2.8. For women the ORs were 1.2 to 2.0. The ORs for men with "most" preventive services covered compared to none covered ranged from 1.3 to 2.1, and for women from 1.2 to 2.0.
Conclusions: The level of health insurance coverage for preventive care is one of the most important determinants of receipt of recommended preventive services for adult men and women 18-64 years of age. These results suggest that comprehensive health insurance coverage for clinical preventive care may significantly increase receipt of recommended preventive services for this population.