New research shows that people who experience traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are more likely to lose or experience negative changes to their private health insurance coverage right as they need it most.
As the authors explain in their report published in JAMA Surgery, the biggest cause of loss of insurance coverage was due to changes in their employment. Most people included in the study received health insurance through their jobs, so any disability making them unable to work could result in loss of coverage.
“Individuals who were the primary policyholder might have lost coverage because they were unable to continue in their job and became unemployed/uninsured,” co- author Eric Schneider of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston told Reuters Health by email.
Approximately 40% of individuals who experience a traumatic brain injury develop a disability which could make them unable to work, according to the researchers.
For the analysis, Scheider and his colleagues collected and assessed data from MarketScan, a national commercial database of people with private health insurance and their insurance claims from between January 2010 and December 2012. This included 13,558 people under the age of 65 who had been treated for traumatic brain injury.
The analysis showed that 30.7 percent of people with a traumatic brain injury experienced changes in their insurance coverage, compared to 27.6 percent of healthy people.
The data also showed that those with the most severe brain injuries had the shortest time between their injury and a change in their health policy. People without TBI averaged 8.5 months before a shift in health coverage while those with the most severe cases of TBI saw changed at 5 months on average.
For those who experience the most severe cases of traumatic brain injury, insurance can be extremely important to help manage medications, hospitalizations, and prolonged rehabilitation.
“This suggests that having continuous coverage may be most important to patients with the most severe injuries; however, in our study, these are the severely injured individuals who were the quickest to change (or lose) their pre-injury coverage,” Schneider said.
While it is true health coverage may change due to some becoming eligible for different insurance programs based on disability, many others slip through the cracks and are left without coverage at a pivotal moment in their life.
“TBI can be a life-changing experience with substantial long-term consequences that affect the individual’s ability to work and function in their family and society for the remainder of their lives. Continuous care can be very important for individuals with TBI,” said Schneider.