Holes in Insurance Leads to Increased Hospital Stays and ER Visits

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By : Suvarna Sheth

For adults living with type 1 diabetes, it’s not a surprise that the costs add up: From medication to testing supplies, the list is endless.

A new study from the University of Michigan finds that one in four working adults with type 1 diabetes had at least one gap in 30 days in their private insurance within three years.

The gap is consequently linked to increased emergency room visits and hospital stays.

What’s more, the research found a temporary loss in coverage lead to a huge impact:

After a gap in coverage for 30 days, adults were five times likely to end up in the hospital or in the emergency room then if there was no interruption of coverage.

The study is the first to look at the impacts of changing insurance and gaps in relation to diabetes care and management.

“Type 1 diabetes requires intensive daily management, in order to simply remain alive, so interruptions to care and coverage of insulin and supplies can pose a major risk,” says Mary A. M. Rogers, Ph.D., in a U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation article.

“While we expected gaps in coverage to affect health in some way, the size of the effect and the frequency of gaps were striking,” she adds.

Rogers, the researcher who led the study, also estimates that 27,000 children and teens, and 37,000 working-age adults are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each year in the United States.

Rogers’ study used data purchased from the Clinformatics Data Mart database from January 2001 to mid-2015.  Researchers focused on adults ages 19 to 64 who had type 1 diabetes. Of the 168,612 adults studied, they found that 40,897 had at least one interruption in their health insurance coverage of 30 days or more.

It was found that people in their 20s and 30s with type 1 diabetes were more likely than those in their 40s, 50s and early 60s to experience a gap in coverage.  They also found that individuals in the north-central and southern part of the United States were more likely to have a gap than those living in the northeast or west part of the country.

The use of acute care services (including urgent care, emergency, ambulance and hospital visits) was seven times higher for those who had uninterrupted health insurance.