In 2013, before the Affordable Care Act – better known as Obamacare
- was fully implemented, researchers found that half of patients at
STD clinics were unwilling to use their health insurance for their
visits, mainly because they worried about privacy or cost.
“A 2014 article found that half of patients at a Massachusetts STD
clinic chose to self-pay for STD clinic visits rather than use their
insurance,” said lead author of the new study, Dr. William S.
Pearson of the Division of STD Prevention at the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.
“Although that survey did not directly link patient self-pay to
confidentiality concerns, from our study we know that STD clinic
patients do have privacy concerns about the care they receive in the
clinic,” Pearson told Reuters Health by email.
He and his colleagues used the results of more than 4,000 patient
surveys administered at STD clinics in 2013 in areas of the U.S.
with the highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis
according to CDC statistics.
Most respondents were teens or young adults, most were women and
about half were black.
More than 2,000 people said they had no health insurance, 1,700 said
they had some form of health insurance and 185 indicated that they
did not know. Almost half of those with insurance were covered by a
government plan like Medicaid, 30 percent had their own private
insurance and 22 percent were covered by their parents’ insurance.
Almost 50 percent of participants said they would be willing to use
their insurance at the visit, 40 percent said they would not be
willing to use their insurance and 12 percent did not respond to the
question. Less than 40 percent of those with private insurance or
parents’ insurance would have been willing to use it, according to
results in the American Journal of Public Health.
Two-thirds of people with government insurance said they would be
willing to use it at the visit.
Most people who explained why they would not be willing to use their
insurance at the visit cited privacy or out-of-pocket cost as the
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“Individuals receiving STD-related healthcare services will
typically want to keep receipt of these services private,” Pearson
Certain STD preventive services may not require a co-pay, but
individual clinics may have different fee scales and insurers have
different reimbursement rates for certain services, Pearson said.
“For some care, such as follow up and/or management of a condition,
then patients may be required to pay,” he said.
“The healthcare marketplace has changed with the full implementation
of the Affordable Care Act,” Pearson said. “Therefore, we would
expect differences and plan to conduct this survey again in the near
future to assess these differences.”
STD reports have been on the rise since then, too, he said.
“The approximately 1.4 million cases of chlamydia reported in 2014
represent the highest number of annual cases of any condition ever
reported to CDC,” Pearson noted.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1H6Pk9Y American Journal of Public Health,
online June 16, 2016.
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