Communities often need richer detail on access to health care and coverage than federal surveys can offer.
That is why the Health Forward Foundation, along with our partners the Kansas Health Foundation, Missouri Foundation for Health, REACH Healthcare Foundation, and United Methodist Healthy Ministry Fund, co-funded the Kansas and Missouri Consumer Health Access Survey (KMHS).
Administered by RTI International, the survey is the most comprehensive data to date on health care access in Kansas and Missouri. The data allow funders to gain a deeper understanding of health challenges in the two states to better inform policymakers and other stakeholders.
The survey primarily focused on health and dental insurance coverage, unmet needs for chronic conditions, including mental health diagnoses, and unmet need for serious injury and prescription drugs.
Adults residing in Kansas and Missouri were randomly selected to complete the survey. A total of 4,274 adults and 1,159 children via an adult proxy were interviewed. Read the methodology report for more detailed specifics.
We encourage you to view the executive summary, infographics, and full report of this data.
We will also be releasing data specific to our service area later this fall. We feel this information is critical in helping identify where there are opportunities for improvement around access, affordability, and the continuing, unmet health needs of the Kansas City area.
Some findings that piqued our interest include:
- Like other states that did not expand Medicaid, Kansas and Missouri are still dealing with a large number (20 percent) of adults who are uninsured. However, it is important to note that Missouri is doing a good job covering children.
- The survey revealed racial and ethnic disparities in access to care, particularly for Hispanic adults compared to white, non-Hispanic adults.
- Of the uninsured adults in this study, most are under the age of 45 and most are working.
- Nearly 20 percent of uninsured adults in this study in Missouri and 14 percent in Kansas report an injury or accident that prevents them from working or working as many hours as they want.
- Among the uninsured, nearly 25 percent tried to purchase insurance in the past two years. Of those, just 3 percent in Kansas and 6 percent in Missouri were able to get health insurance, yet all lost coverage at some point. Affordability is the primary reason these individuals can’t get insurance.
- Medical debt is pervasive in our region. In Kansas, 28 percent of adults and 34 percent in Missouri live in households that are having problems paying off medical bills. This represents nearly 1.5 million people.
- There is a staggering amount of unmet need. In both states, 60 percent of working-age adults have a diagnosed chronic condition such as heart disease or diabetes, while one-third have a mental health diagnosis, substance abuse, or addiction. Among those with chronic health care needs, large numbers reported that they are going without needed care due to cost or lack of coverage.
- In regards to emergency room usage, 80 percent of individuals were instructed by a provider to go, or perceived their health need as serious and in need of immediate attention.
Overall, the survey was about more than insurance status, but it’s clear after reviewing the findings that insurance matters to the health of our community.
We will continue to use and review the data from this survey and further explore some of the indicators that need further explanation to better understand the issues within our communities.