Private Insurance and Mental Health Among Older Adults with Multiple Chronic Conditions: A Longitudinal Analysis by Race and Ethnicity


Older adults with multiple chronic conditions have a higher risk than those without multiple conditions of developing a mental health condition. Individuals with both physical and mental conditions face many substantial burdens. Many such individuals also belong to racial and ethnic minority groups. Private insurance coverage can reduce the risks of developing mental illnesses by increasing healthcare utilization and reducing psychological stress related to financial hardship. This study examines the association between private insurance and mental health (i.e., depressive symptoms and cognitive impairment) among older adults in the United States with multiple chronic conditions by race and ethnicity. We apply a multivariate logistic model with individual fixed-effects to 12 waves of the Health and Retirement Study. Among adults with multiple chronic conditions in late middle age nearing entry to Medicare and of all racial and ethnic groups, those without private insurance have a stronger probability of having depressive symptoms. Private insurance and Medicare can mediate the risk of cognitive impairment among non-Hispanic Whites with multiple chronic conditions and among Blacks regardless of the number of chronic conditions. Our study has implications for policies aiming to reduce disparities among individuals coping with multiple chronic conditions.

The full study can be found here.