People experiencing mental distress less likely to have health insurance

People with frequent mental distress are markedly more likely that than those with frequent physical distress to lack health insurance, according to research appearing the October issue of Psychiatric Services, a journal of the American Psychiatric Association. Uninsured adults have less access to recommended care, receive poorer quality care, and experience worse health outcomes than insured adults.

Researchers used population survey data from the Surveillance System to examine uninsurance rates among Americans from 1993 through 2009 by whether respondents reported “frequent ” (indicative of mental illness) and/or “frequent physical distress” (indicative of chronic disease). Those reporting “frequent mental distress” had disproportionately high uninsurance rates (22.6%) compared to those reporting “frequent physical distress” (17.7%).

The prevalence of uninsurance did not differ markedly between those with only frequent mental distress and those with frequent mental and physical distress, suggesting that mental distress was the driving factor. People with neither physical nor mental distress were the least likely to be uninsured (16.6%).

The authors’ goal was to establish baseline data that can be used in 2014 and later when researchers are trying to gauge the effect of implementation of health care reform, such as by changes in access, utilization, and self-reported measures of health. The Affordable Care Act is scheduled to be fully implemented in January 2014, when millions of formerly uninsured Americans will gain insurance coverage.

The researchers found that the percentage of the population that was uninsured increased significantly between the time periods 1993-1996 and 2006-2009 for people with frequent mental distress and for people with neither physical or mental distress. It remained fairly constant for people with frequent physical distress and people with frequent physical and mental distress.

The authors, Tara W. Strine, Ph.D., M.P.H., and colleagues, conclude that given these results, “it will be important to monitor potential changes in health care access, utilization, and self-reported health after implementation of the ACA [Affordable Care Act], particularly among those with mental illness.”

Provided by American Psychiatric Association

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Serious distress linked to higher health care spending

May 13, 2011

Sufferers of serious psychological distress spend an average of $1,735 more on health care each year compared to those without the condition. However, recognizing psychological distress and treating it is often complicated ...

Reports of mental health disability increase in US

Sep 23, 2011

The prevalence of self-reported mental health disabilities increased in the U.S. among non-elderly adults during the last decade, according to a study by Ramin Mojtabai, MD, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public ...

Recommended for you

Brains transform remote threats into anxiety

Nov 21, 2014

Modern life can feel defined by low-level anxiety swirling through society. Continual reports about terrorism and war. A struggle to stay on top of family finances and hold onto jobs. An onslaught of news ...

Mental disorders due to permanent stress

Nov 21, 2014

Activated through permanent stress, immune cells will have a damaging effect on and cause changes to the brain. This may result in mental disorders. The effects of permanent stress on the immune system are studied by the ...

Could there be a bright side to depression?

Nov 21, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—A group of researchers studying the roots of depression has developed a test that leads them closer to the idea that depression may actually be an adaptation meant to help people cope with ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.