Young adults with asthma have worse health care access than their under-18 counterparts, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School. Those between 18 and 25 may also use available care less optimally.
"This study suggests that expanding insurance coverage will help many young adults with asthma receive the care that they need," said Kao-Ping Chua, a staff physician in the Division of Emergency Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital who led the study. "But it also points to the importance of addressing other socially mediated factors in this population."
Those factors include leaving school and losing adult supervision, according to study results.
Researchers analyzed nationally representative data from the 1999 to 2009 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, looking at a sample of 2,485 individuals between the ages of 14 and 25.
They discovered those under age 18 were more likely to utilize primary care and preventive measures and young adults over age 18 were more likely to use the emergency room and have problems accessing medical care and medications because of cost. Losing insurance explained 32% of the decline in use of primary care; 47- 61% of the increase in cost-related access problems.
"Young people with asthma need to work with their care providers to create transition plans from pediatric to adult care that take into account their medical and social history," Chua said.