Disability, Health Insurance and Serious Psychological Distress (SPD) among U.S. Adults: Evidence from the IHIS

Sirry Alang, University of Minnesota
Carrie Henning-Smith, University of Minnesota
Kathleen Rowan, University of Minnesota

Although evidence suggests that disability increases the likelihood of severe psychological distress (SPD), the role of access to health care in this association has not been assessed. This paper explores health insurance coverage as a moderator of the relationship between disability and SPD. A pooled sample from 2008-2010 (N=50,171) was obtained from the Integrated Health Interview Series (IHIS). The moderating effect of health insurance was assessed using interaction terms in logistic regression models. Results indicated that among persons with disabilities, private insurance coverage significantly increased the odds of SPD compared to public insurance coverage (OR=1.98, C.I. =1.1, 3.5). Public insurance might offer affordable access to health care services that are specific to the needs of persons with disabilities. Broadening eligibility criteria for Medicaid as mandated by the Affordable Care Act, and expanding other public health insurance plans could have significant mental health benefits for persons with disabilities.

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Presented in Session 179: Mental Health and Disability over the Life Course