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By | October 30, 2006

Using data from a national survey of adults in late middle age who are nearing entry into Medicare, Drs. Dor, Sudano, and Baker investigated if the presence of private insurance–compared to being uninsured–contributes to better health status over a period of 4 years. They also wanted to determine if past methods of analyzing this problem underestimated the effect of having insurance. The authors found that 1) traditional methods of estimating the effect of having insurance were small and statistically significant, but biased downward, i.e., underestimated the effect of having insurance; and 2) using two approaches called Òinstrumental variablesÓ and Òtreatment-effects models,Ó alternative estimates yielded up to a six-fold increase in the insurance effect. The authors concluded that prior estimates indeed underestimated the effects of having insurance and that extending insurance coverage to working age adults may result in improved health. Additionally, policies aimed at expanding coverage to this population may lead to improved health at retirement and entry to Medicare, potentially leading to savings. (posted 10/2006)

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About Joseph J. Sudano

I have been trained as a medical sociologist and health services researcher and am currently a faculty member in the Population Health Unit in the Center for Health Care Research and Policy, Case Western Reserve University at The MetroHealth System and Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University. I am also the Director of Education in the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at Case Western Reserve University. My current research interests include: disparities in health care access, utilization and health outcomes concentrating on minorities and other vulnerable populations; social determinants of health including community/contextual characteristics (e.g., residential segregation, SES/poverty, job opportunities); measurement equivalence, validity and item-response theory in cross-cultural health status measurement; culturally-specific health beliefs and behaviors; general cognitive ability, personality, and education in relationship to health status and health behaviors; structural equation modeling/path analysis in health outcomes research; health related survey data collection and analysis; international health services research.