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J Community Health. 1997 Oct;22(5):387-99.

Health care coverage: traditional and preventive measures and associations with chronic disease risk factors.

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Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center, Department of Community and Family Medicine, MO 63104, USA.


Physician counseling of patients on health related activities is an essential component of chronic disease prevention, however this requires patients to have ready access to health care providers. Previous studies have explored access to health care in terms of health plans and cost without accounting for the lack of preventive coverage inherent in many insurance policies. This study compares two measures of health care access, one using an assessment of cost and health plan availability, and a new coverage measure including preventive services. Data was collected from 2574 adult respondents to the 1991-92 Missouri Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Surveys. Odds ratios were generated for demographic variables, health related behaviors and preventive screening and the two coverage measures. Using health plan and cost 22% lacked full coverage, however including availability of preventive coverage almost 60% lacked full coverage for preventive care. For both coverage measures significant associations were found with age, exercise, marital status, routine checkup and mammography screening. Using the measure of coverage of preventive services, rural residents and those who had never had cholesterol screening were more likely to lack coverage. Inclusion of preventive care in measures of health care coverage may alter previously reported associations with socio-demographic and health related factors. Policy makers should realize that including preventive services in health care coverage greatly increases the number of individuals lacking adequate coverage, and that those lacking adequate coverage are the least likely to undergo preventive screening.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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