Health characteristics associated with gaining and losing private and public health insurance: A national study

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14 Scopus citations


Background: Millions of Americans lack or lose health insurance annually, yet how health characteristics predict insurance acquisition and loss remains unclear. Objective: To examine associations of health characteristics with acquisition and loss of private and public health insurance. Research Design and Participants:: Prospective observational analysis of 2000 to 2007 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data for persons aged 18 to 63 on entry, enrolled for 2 years. We modeled year 2 private and public insurance gain and loss. Measures: Dependent variables: year 2 insurance status [none (reference), any private insurance, or public insurance] among those uninsured in year 1 (N=13,022), and retaining or losing coverage in year 2 among those privately or publicly insured in year 1 (N=47,239). Independent variables: age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income, region, urbanity, health status, health conditions, year 1 health expenditures, year 1 and 2 employment status, and (in secondary analyses) skepticism toward medical care and insurance. Results: In adjusted analyses, lower income and education were associated with not gaining and with losing private insurance. Poorer health status was associated with public insurance gain. Smoking and being overweight were associated with not gaining private insurance, and smoking with losing private coverage. Secondary analyses adjusting for medical skepticism yielded similar findings. Conclusions: Social disadvantage and poorer health status are associated with gaining public insurance, whereas social advantage, not smoking, and not being overweight are associated with gaining private insurance, even when adjusting for attitudes toward medical care. Private insurers seem to benefit from relatively low health risk selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-151
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • health care reform
  • health insurance
  • health status
  • insurance selection bias
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • patient protection and affordable care act
  • socioeconomic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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