Hypertensive patients who experience gaps in their health insurance coverage are less likely to continue with their anti-hypertensive medications, according to researchers.

The investigators, Yunwei Gai, PhD, Assistant Professor of Economics at Babson College in Babson Park, Mass., and Ning Yan Gu, a PhD candidate at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, analyzed data from 3,679 hypertensive individuals who participated in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).

The researchers identified four insurance categories: continuous coverage by private insurance; continuous coverage by public insurance; single or multiple gaps in coverage; and continuously uninsured.

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In adjusted analyses, subjects with insurance gaps were about 36% less likely to continue their anti-hypertensive treatment compared with patients who had continuous private insurance (the reference group), according to a report in the American Journal of Hypertension (2009;22:1276-1280). Continuously uninsured patients had a nearly 54% decreased likelihood of medication persistence.

“Our study has shown that continued health insurance is an important determinant for patients to stay on the prescribed treatment regimen and thus an important policy tool for reaching the targeted hypertension control rate,” the authors concluded.