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Study reveals populations most in need of health insurance assistance

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The expansion of the state's Medicaid program and other Affordable Care Act initiatives will open up health care access to many people, but the state must understand which sociodemographics are most likely to need coverage in order to have a significant impact.

According to a new study issued today by the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, people who have not had health insurance for a year or more are most highly represented among Hispanics, males, immigrants and people under the age of 30.

Those without insurance are also most likely to have worse health – physical and mental – than those who have health care coverage. But, despite reporting symptoms of poor health, the long-term uninsured population is most likely to not be diagnosed with a chronic condition.

The study, conducted by looking at 2009 New Jersey Family Health Survey, also compared health care use and perceived barriers to care between those who were uninsured long-term, short-term or continually covered.

According to the center, the prevalence of people who are not insured for a year or more is a "result of population and socioeconomic characteristics, the scope of the state's current Medicaid program and the existing private insurance market."

These findings conclude that full implementation of the Affordable Care Act can benefit adults in New Jersey who are long-term uninsured, especially for those who have unaddressed health needs. It also finds that, while those who are uninsured in the short-term have better access to health care, it is still remarkably different from those who are continually insured. The Center for State Health Policy recommended better management of eligibility and affordability for lower-income populations to help reduce gaps in coverage.

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