To determine whether gender differences in reports of problematic health care experiences are associated with characteristics of managed care.
The 2002 Yale Consumer Experiences Survey (=5,000), a nationally representative sample of persons over 18 years of age with private health insurance, Interstudy Competitive Edge HMO Industry Report 2001, Area Resource File 2002, and the American Hospital Association Annual Survey of Hospitals 2002.
Independent and interactive effects of gender and managed care on reports of problematic health care experiences were modeled using weighted multivariate logistic regression.
Women were significantly more likely to report problems with their health care compared with men, even after controlling for gendered differences in expectations about medical care. Gender disparities in problem reporting were larger in plans that used certain managed care techniques, but smaller in plans using other methods. Some health plan managed care practices, including closed networks of providers and gatekeepers to specialty care, were associated with greater problem reporting among women, while others, such as requirements for primary care providers, were associated with greater problem reporting among men. Markets with higher HMO competition and penetration were associated with greater problem reporting among women, but reduced problem reporting among men. Women reported more problems in states that had enacted regulations governing access to OB/GYNs, while men reported more problems in states with regulations allowing specialists to act as primary care providers in health plans.
There are nontrivial gender disparities in reports of problematic health care experiences. The differential consequences of managed care at both the plan and market levels explain a portion of these gender disparities in problem reporting.