Low-income, diabetic individuals who have access to primary care and pharmacy services have rates of hospital admission similar to higher-income individuals with diabetes, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health.
Researchers examined the hospitalization rates of 18,800 diabetic patients who received care at Pennsylvania clinics or hospitals between March 1993 and December 2001. The study found that white patients were more likely than blacks to be admitted and that Latinos, Asian-Americans and other racial and ethnic groups were less likely than blacks to be hospitalized.
The authors found that 10.5% of the study population was hospitalized at least five times during the study and accounted for 64% of hospital admissions and 36% of patient deaths. Access to primary care and pharmacy services without out-of-pocket expenses could account for the similarity between hospitalization rates of low- and high-income individuals, according to the study.
Researchers recommend that policymakers expand access to health services for diabetic patients and resist efforts to increase out-of-pocket expenses and other cost-sharing measures for low-income groups (Robbins/Webb, American Journal of Public Health, July 2006).