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People With Mental Health Issues More Likely to Be Uninsured

THURSDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Americans with frequent bouts of mental distress are more likely to lack health insurance than those with frequent physical distress, a new study says.

Researchers examined national data collected from 1993 through 2009 and found that 22.6 percent of people with frequent mental distress (indicative of mental illness) were uninsured, compared with 17.7 percent of those with frequent physical distress (indicative of chronic disease). About 16.6 percent of people with neither mental or physical distress were uninsured.

People with only frequent mental distress and those with both frequent mental and physical distress were equally likely to not have insurance, which suggests that mental distress was the main factor, according to the researchers.

The study appears in the October issue of the journal Psychiatric Services.

Compared to adults with insurance, those who are uninsured have less access to recommended care, receive poorer quality care, and have worse health outcomes, the researchers noted in an American Psychiatric Association news release.

The purpose of their study was to establish baseline data that can be used to assess the impact of the Affordable Care Act, which is scheduled to be fully implemented in January 2014 and will provide insurance coverage to millions of previously uninsured Americans.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about health insurance.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Psychiatric Assocation, news release, October 2011

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