Obesity and Health Care Expenditures of Americans with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

2015-10-21T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Henan Li
It is estimated that 4.6 to 7.2 million Americans have intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The 2002 U.S. Surgeon General report stated that Americans with IDD experience poorer health status and more difficulties in affording appropriate health care compared with other populations. Research has shown that Americans with IDD are especially at risk for obesity, which is a major driver of health care expenditures in the general population. However, health care expenditures studies on Americans with IDD using nationally representative samples are rare, and the role of obesity has not been specifically examined. Mapping and understanding the key determinants of health care expenditures is vital for policymakers and stakeholders of this population. Thus, the proposed dissertation will seek to develop and test models of health care expenditures among Americans with IDD using obesity as the primary focus of the analysis. Many existing national health data systems do not separately identify IDD as a subpopulation and therefore cannot be used to study obesity, health care expenditures, and IDD at the same time. An innovative approach was proposed in the present study. By linking two datasets – Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), individuals with IDD were identified from a nationally representative sample. Health care expenditures were assessed and the hypothesis that obesity drives up health care expenditures in the IDD population was tested. The outcomes of the present study will add to the emerging body of literature on IDD and health disparities and provide information for policy-making and program-developing efforts.