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    Four ways MCOs can reduce health disparities in patients with disabilities


    Individuals with disabilities experience healthcare disparities, according to a new study published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

    Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Nisonger Center found significant disparities between individuals with and without developmental disabilities in health status, healthcare quality, utilization, access to care and unmet healthcare needs.

    A telephone survey of 42,876 adults and 10,122 proxy interviews for children found that, when comparing age groups, children and older adults with developmental disabilities experienced the greatest disparities in unmet healthcare needs.

    Researchers conducted a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of the 2015 Ohio Medicaid Assessment Survey (OMAS).

    Key findings:

    · Among children zero to 18 years of age with developmental disabilities, 14% reported problems receiving needed care, compared to 2% of children without developmental disabilities.

    · Among adults age 65 years and older, 50% of those with developmental disabilities reported one or more unmet healthcare needs, compared to 17% of those without such disabilities. 


    “Furthermore, these disparities begin in childhood and continue throughout the lifespan, often worsening with age,” says Jessica Prokup, a third-year medical student at Ohio State’s College of Medicine and Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities fellow at the Nisonger Center, which is part of Ohio State’s Neurological Institute.

    “Few studies quantify the health disparities experienced by adults with developmental disabilities,” Prokup says. “There is a distinct need for studies that examine these health disparities in this vulnerable population throughout the lifespan.”


    Next: Findings broken down by age group



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