OBJECTIVE: To determine the impact of losing health insurance coverage on perceived need for and access to mental health care in women screened for postpartum depression (PPD) in primary care settings.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: The study sample included 2343 women enrolled in a 12-month, multisite, randomized trial that compared clinical outcomes of a comprehensive PPD screening and management program with usual care (March 1, 2006, through August 31, 2010). Screening for PPD occurred at the first postpartum visit (5-12 weeks) using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale followed by the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire. Insurance status during the prenatal period, at delivery, and during the first postpartum year and perceived need for and access to mental health care during the first postpartum year were assessed via questionnaires completed by individual patients and participating practices.
RESULTS: Rates of uninsured increased from 3.8% during pregnancy and delivery (n=87 of 2317) to 10.8% at the first postpartum visit (n=253 of 2343) and 13.7% at any subsequent visit to the practice after 2 months post partum (n=226 of 1646) (P<.001, both comparisons vs baseline). For patients with data on insurance type during follow-up, insurance loss occurred primarily in Medicaid beneficiaries. Nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire scores and self-reported need for mental health care did not differ significantly between patients who remained insured and those who lost insurance during the first postpartum year. However, of patients who reported the need for mental health care, 61.1% of the uninsured (n=66 of 108) vs 27.1% of the insured (n=49 of 181) reported an inability to obtain mental health care (P<.001).
CONCLUSION: Loss of insurance during the first postpartum year did not significantly affect depressive symptoms or perceived need for mental health care but did adversely affect self-reported ability to obtain mental health care.
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