Cholesterol Control Among Uninsured Adults Did Not Improve From 2001‐2004 to 2009‐2012 as Disparities With Both Publicly and Privately Insured Adults Doubled
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Background Low‐density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL‐C) control is higher among insured than uninsured adults, but data on time trends and contributing factors are incomplete and important for improving health equity.
Methods and Results Awareness, treatment, and control of elevated LDL‐C were compared among insured versus uninsured and publicly versus privately insured adults, aged 21 to 64 years, in National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 2001 to 2004, 2005 to 2008, and 2009 to 2012 using Adult Treatment Panel‐3 criteria. Compared with insured adults, uninsured adults were younger; were more often minority; reported lower incomes, less education, and fewer healthcare encounters; and had lower awareness and treatment of elevated LDL‐C (P<0.0001). LDL‐C control was higher among insured than uninsured adults in 2001 to 2004 (mean±SEM, 21.4±1.6% versus 10.5±2.6%; P<0.01), and the gap widened by 2009 to 2012 (35.1±1.9% versus 11.3±2.2%; P<0.0001). Despite more minorities (P<0.01), greater poverty, and less education (P<0.001), publicly insured adults had more healthcare visits/year than privately insured adults (P<0.001) and similar awareness, treatment, and control of LDL‐C from 2001 to 2012. In multivariable logistic regression, significant positive predictors of cholesterol awareness, treatment, and control included more frequent health care (strongest), increasing age, private healthcare insurance versus uninsured, and hypertension. Public insurance (versus uninsured) was a significant positive predictor of LDL‐C control, whereas income <200% versus ≥200% of federal poverty was a significant negative predictor.
Conclusions LDL‐C control improved similarly over time in publicly and privately insured adults but was stagnant among the uninsured. Healthcare insurance largely addresses socioeconomic barriers to effective LDL‐C management, yet poverty retains an independent adverse effect.