FRIDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) — Diabetes patients require
continuous health coverage to ensure they receive recommended care, a new
For the study, U.S. researchers analyzed data from nearly 3,400
diabetes patients who received medical care between 2005 and 2007 at 50
federally qualified health centers in Oregon. At these centers, free or
reduced-cost care is provided to low-income patients whether they have
insurance or not.
Of the patients in the study, 52 percent had continuous health
insurance coverage (most often provided by Medicaid), 21 percent had
interrupted coverage during the three-year period, and 27 percent had no
coverage. Patients with private insurance were not included in the
The researchers looked at whether the patients received four health
services recommended at least once a year for diabetes patients: a lipid
test for high cholesterol; a flu vaccine; a blood sugar level test; and a
urine test that can detect kidney damage.
Among patients with continuous insurance, 48 percent received at least
three lipid-screening tests during the three-year study, 25 percent
received three or more flu shots, 72 percent received three or more blood
glucose screenings, and 19 percent underwent three or more screenings for
Patients with interrupted or no coverage received far fewer of these
preventive health services, the investigators found.
“Our study shows that patients need continuous health insurance
coverage in order to ensure adequate preventive care, even when that care
is provided at a reduced cost,” study author Rachel Gold, an investigator
with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.,
said in a Kaiser Permanente news release.
While services at the clinics are free, some of the diagnostic tests
require a small co-payment that is usually covered by Medicaid. Patients
who lose Medicaid coverage often delay getting the tests because they
can’t afford the co-payment, the researchers noted.
The study, funded in part by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is
published online and in the January-February issue of the Journal of
the American Board of Family Medicine.
The American Diabetes Association has more about living