The Election, The Uninsured and Obesity

October 9th, 2012 by MorganDowney Leave a reply »

Evidence, while not definitive, indicates that a large proportion of the uninsured population is probably overweight or obese. In one study of a free health clinic, higher than normal rates of smoking and obesity among the uninsured were observed.  PubMed: Analysis of the demographic characteristics and medical conditions of the uninsured

I have always assumed that many people who have severe obesity are likely to be unemployed and uninsured but I have no data. We do know that the uninsured are more likely to be young, childless, a member of a minority and have a chronic health condition.

A 2005 study using the National Health Interview Survey found that nearly half of all uninsured, non-elderly adults reported having a chronic condition. Many did not have a usual source of care and many did not get medical care or drugs because of costs. Common chronic diseases included diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis-related conditions, heart disease, cancer and stroke. UrbanInstitute: Uninsured Americans with Chronic Health Conditions

Since 2005, a lot has changed. Some of the uninsured may have gotten insurance or at least better access to care. On the other hand, the recession and resulting unemployment and loss of individual net worth, may have increased the ranks of the uninsured. We probably won’t know for a while.

Nevertheless, it is important in the context of the Presidential election to evaluate the candidate’s health plans and their possible impacts on the uninsured. Fortunately, the Commonwealth Foundation has done it for us, comparing baseline data on the uninsured with implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the proposals put forth by Governor Romney. It is worth reading. CommonwealthFund: Health-Care-in-the-2012-Presidential-Election

The chart above is from this article by Sara Collins, Stuart Guterman, Rachel Nuzum, and colleagues.


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