Uninsured Get Healthier With Medicare
Sick and Uninsured? Turn 65, Get Medicare, Get Healthier
Dec. 27, 2007 -- Compared with those with health insurance, the uninsured
get sicker and sicker as they age -- until they qualify for Medicare.
The finding comes from a huge
survey of 5,006 Americans with health insurance and 2,227 Americans who were
persistently or intermittently uninsured from ages 55 to 64.
J. Michael McWilliams, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard
University and colleagues rated participants' health in terms of general
health, change in general health, mobility, agility,
pain, and depressive
symptoms. They also collected specific data on people with
heart disease and on measures of blood-sugar control for people with
The bottom line: If you don't have health insurance, your health gets worse
and worse compared with people with health insurance. That changes at age
65, when universal Medicare health care coverage kicks in. Then you stop losing
ground -- although you're not likely to become as healthy as someone who had
health insurance all along.
This is particularly true for people with diabetes and heart disease.
"Providing earlier health insurance coverage for uninsured adults,
particularly those with cardiovascular disease or diabetes, may have
considerable social and economic value for the United States by improving
health outcomes," McWilliams and colleagues conclude.
Their report appears in the Dec. 27 issue of The Journal of the American