Asylum-seekers in Germany differ from regularly insured in their morbidity, utilizations and costs of care.
ABSTRACT: In the wake of the European refugee crisis, Germany has received over a million new applications for asylum in the last two years. The health care system is struggling to provide asylum-seekers with access to essential medical services and facilitate their longer-term integration. In this article, we report on the morbidity, utilization and costs of care for a sample of asylum-seekers as compared to a matched group of regularly insured. Using administrative data, we found that asylum-seekers had more hospital and emergency department admissions, including more admissions that could be avoided through good outpatient care or prevention. Their average expenditures were 10 percent higher than for the regularly insured, mostly because of higher hospital expenditures, although there was substantial variation in expenditures by country of origin. Facilitating access to the health care system, especially outpatient and mental health care, could improve asylum-seekers health status and integration, possibly at lower costs.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Asylum seekers are a vulnerable group with special needs in health care due to their migration history and pre-, peri- and postmigratory social determinants of health. However, in Germany access to health care is restricted for asylum seekers by law and administrative regulations. METHODS:Using claims data generated in the billing process of health care services provided to asylum seekers, we explore their utilization of health care services in the outpatient sector. We describe the utilization of outpatient specialties, prevalences of diagnoses, prescribed drugs and other health care services, as well as total costs of health care provision. RESULTS:The estimated prevalence for visiting an ambulatory physician at least once per year was 67.5% [95%-Confidence-Interval (CI): 65.1-69.9%], with a notably higher prevalence for women than men. The diagnoses with the highest one-year prevalence were "Acute upper respiratory infections" (16.1% [14.5-18.0%]), "Abdominal and pelvic pain" (15.6% [13.9-17.4%]) and "Dorsalgia" (13.8% [12.2-15.5%]). A total of 21% of all prescriptions were for common pain killers. Women received more diagnoses across most diagnosis groups and prescribed drugs from all types than men. Less than half (45.3%) of all health care costs were generated in the outpatient sector. CONCLUSION:The analysis of claims data held in a municipal social services office is a novel approach to gain better insight into asylum seekers' utilization of health services on an individual level. Compared to regularly insured patients, four characteristics in health care utilization by asylum seekers were identified: low utilization of ambulatory physicians; a gender gap in almost all services, with higher utilization by women; frequent prescription of pain killers; and a low proportion of overall health care costs generated in the outpatient sector. Further research is needed to describe structural and individual factors producing these anomalies.
Project description:Background: The growing immigration to Germany led to more patients whose medical needs are divergent from those of the domestic population. In the field of dental health care there is a debate about how well the German health system is able to meet the resulting challenges. Data on asylum-seekers' dental health is scarce. This work is intended to reduce this data gap. Methods: We conducted this retrospective observational study in Halle (Saale), Germany. We included all persons who were registered with the social welfare office (SWO) in 2015 and received dental treatments. From the medical records, we derived information such as complaints, diagnoses, and treatments. Results: Out of 4107 asylum-seekers, the SWO received a bill for 568 people. On average, there were 1.44 treatment cases (95%-CI: 1.34-1.55) and 2.53 contacts with the dentist per patient (95%-CI: 2.33-2.74). Among those, the majority went to the dentist because of localized (43.2%, 95%-CI: 38.7-47.7) and non-localized pain (32.0%, 95%-CI: 27.8-36.2). The most widespread diagnosis was caries (n = 469, 98.7%, 95%-CI: 97.7-99.7). Conclusion: The utilization of dental care is lower among asylum-seekers than among regularly insured patients. We assume that the low prevalence rates in our data indicate existing access barriers to the German health care system.
Project description:Background:Asylum seekers display high prevalence rates of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and panic disorder due to pre-, peri-, and post-migration stressors. In contrast to the high mental health burden, health care utilization among asylum seekers in the early phase of resettlement is low. However, the early stages after migration are a particularly vulnerable phase in which psychosocial support measures are needed to prevent mental disorders from becoming chronic. Objective:To identify predictors of asylum seekers' health care utilization in the early stages of resettlement. Methods:Using hierarchical logistic regression analysis, the variance explanation of the (1) general utilization of health care services as well as the individual utilization of (2) outpatient psychiatrists, (3) counselling centers, and (4) general practitioners was analyzed in n = 65 asylum seekers. A structured interview on health care utilization took place between three to five months after assessment of possible predictors. We defined the following three groups of predictors a) the sociodemographic variables gender, age, number of children, religion, language proficiency, b) the psychological variables sense of coherence and emotion regulation as well as c) the asylum seekers' psychiatric diagnoses. Results:Individual sociodemographic factors, such as gender, age, and number of children as well as the emotion regulation strategy of expressive suppression and sense of coherence were shown to be predictive for the utilization of health care services among asylum seekers. Conclusions:Low-threshold, culture-sensitive treatment offers for asylum seekers should be established in the early phase after migration. General practitioners should be a central hub for further referrals to disorder-specific treatments.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>More than 120,000 refugees and asylum seekers are currently living in Switzerland. The prevalence of mental disorders among this population is significantly higher than that in the general population. While effective treatment options and cross-cultural, specialized treatment centers exist, they tend to be overloaded by their target populations. General outpatient primary health care providers might be able to compensate for the lack of specialized treatment slots. To date, however, it is unknown how often and under what conditions (e.g., length of waiting lists) refugees and asylum seekers are treated outside of specialized centers and whether there are barriers that prevent providers in outpatient settings from treating more patients in this subgroup. The present study aimed to assess the challenges and barriers faced by psychiatrists and psychotherapists working in outpatient settings in Switzerland in treating refugees and asylum seekers to determine the potential capacity of this group to provide mental health care.<h4>Methods</h4>An online survey was conducted during the winter of 2017/2018. The survey was constructed in three official languages and took 10-15?min to complete. Spearman's correlations, Mann-Whitney U-Tests, and Chi-squared tests were conducted to analyze the data.<h4>Results</h4>Eight hundred and sixty-seven (N?=?867) psychotherapists and psychiatrists working in outpatient settings completed the survey: 43% of them reported having treated between 1 and 9 refugees or asylum seekers in the past 12?months, and a further 13% reported treating 10 or more. Interpreters were used for almost every other patient with a refugee or asylum-seeker background. At the same time, the funding of interpreters, as well as the funding of treatment in general, were reported to be the biggest hurdles to treating more refugees and asylum seekers.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Given the low number of patients rejected for capacity reasons (between 2 and 5%) and the median waiting times for the admission of new patients ranging between 2 and 3?weeks, outpatient primary mental health care providers might treat more refugees and asylum seekers and relieve specialized treatment centers. However, barriers such as lack of funding of interpreters seem to hinder them. Appropriate steps by the authorities are needed to improve the current situation.
Project description:BACKGROUND:There is interest in assessing health care utilization and expenditures among new Medicaid enrollees after the 2014 Medicaid expansion. Recent studies have not differentiated between newly enrolled individuals and those returning after coverage gaps. OBJECTIVES:To assess health care expenditures among Medicaid enrollees in the 24 months after Oregon's 2014 Medicaid expansions and examine whether expenditure patterns were different among the newly, returning, and continuously insured (CI). RESEARCH DESIGN:Retrospective cohort study using inverse-propensity weights to adjust for differences between groups. SUBJECTS:Oregon adult Medicaid beneficiaries insured continuously from 2014 to 2015 who were either newly, returning, or CI. MEASURES:Monthly expenditures for inpatient care, prescription drugs, total outpatient care, and subdivisions of outpatient care: emergency department, dental, mental and behavioral health, primary care, and specialist care. RESULTS:After initial increases, newly and returning insured (RI) outpatient expenditures dropped below CI. Expenditures for emergency department and dental services among the RI remained higher than among the newly insured. Newly insured mental and behavioral health, primary care, and specialist expenditures plateaued higher than RI. Prescription drug expenditures increased over time for all groups, with CI highest and RI lowest. All groups had similar inpatient expenditures over 24 months post-Medicaid expansion. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings reveal that outpatient expenditures for new nonpregnant, non-dual-eligible Oregon Medicaid recipients stabilized over time after meeting pent-up demand, and prior insurance history affected the mix of services that individuals received. Policy evaluations should consider expenditures over at least 24 months and should account for enrollees' prior insurance histories.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Migrant health has become an essential part of public health. According to the World Health Organization, many health systems in Europe have not yet adapted adequately to the needs of asylum-seekers, which might result in untimely and inefficient health care for asylum-seeking patients. The aim of this study was to assess the number of preventable hospital admissions and emergency department visits in asylum-seeking and non-asylum-seeking pediatric patients. METHODS:This is a retrospective, hospital-based study. The study was done at the University Children's Hospital Basel in Switzerland. Patients admitted or presenting to the emergency department were included and split into the groups of asylum-seeking and non-asylum-seeking patients. All admissions and emergency-department visits were extracted from the administrative electronic health records from 1st Jan 2016-31st Dec 2017. The main outcome was the proportion of admissions due to ambulatory-care-sensitive conditions (which refer to conditions for which admission can be prevented by early interventions in primary care) in asylum-seeking and non-asylum-seeking patients. Ambulatory-care-sensitive conditions were defined by a validated list of ICD-10 codes. The secondary objective was to assess the number of preventable emergency-department visits by asylum-seeking patients defined as proportion of visits with a non-urgent triage score. RESULTS:A total of 75'199 hospital visits were included, of which 63'405 were emergency department visits and 11'794 were admissions. Ambulatory-care-sensitive conditions accounted for 12.1% (18/149) of asylum-seeking and 10.9% (1270/11645) of non-asylum seeking patients' admissions. Among the emergency department visits by asylum-seeking patients, non-urgent conditions accounted for 82.2% (244/297). CONCLUSIONS:Admissions due to ambulatory-care-sensitive conditions are comparable in asylum-seeking and non-asylum-seeking children, suggesting few delayed presentations to ambulatory care facilities. Strategies to prevent non-urgent visits at pediatric emergency department facilities are needed.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The initial and intermediate-term access of refugees to healthcare in Germany is limited. A previous study showed that the obligation to request healthcare vouchers at the social security offices decreases the asylum seekers' consultation rate of ambulant physicians. The introduction of the Electronic Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for asylum seekers is considered skeptically by some municipalities and federal states, among other reasons due to the fear of an overuse of health care services by asylum seekers. The aim of this study is to further evaluate the data of the authors' initial study with a new focus on inpatient care as well as a differentiation of the ambulant consultation rate into general practitioners and outpatient specialists. METHODS:The now-differentiated consultation rate of the initial study as well as the asylum seekers' use of inpatient care are compared to the values of the sex- and age-corrected autochthonous population as given by the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Adults (DEGS1). A mean difference test (student's t-test) is used for comparison and significance testing. RESULTS:Asylum seekers who were in possession of the EHIC were significantly less likely to visit their ambulant general practitioners and specialists than the German autochthonous population. Simultaneously, this difference is partly compensated for by their more frequent use of impatient care. CONCLUSIONS:There is no indication that the EHIC leads to an overuse of healthcare services.
Project description:Over one million asylum seekers were registered in Germany in 2016, most from Syria and Afghanistan. The Refugee Convention guarantees access to healthcare, however delivery mechanisms remain heterogeneous. There is an urgent need for more data describing the health conditions of asylum seekers to guide best practices for healthcare delivery. In this study, we describe the state of health of asylum seekers presenting to a multi-specialty primary care refugee clinic.Demographic and medical diagnosis data were extracted from the electronic medical records of patients seen at the ambulatory refugee clinic in Dresden, Germany between 15 September 2015 and 31 December 2016. Data were de-identified and analyzed using Stata version 14.0.Two-thousand-seven-hundred and fifty-three individual patients were seen in the clinic. Of these, 2232 (81.1%) were insured by the state indicating arrival within the last 3 months. The median age was 25, interquartile range 16-34. Only 786 (28.6%) were female, while 1967 (71.5%) were male. The most frequent diagnoses were respiratory (17.4%), followed by miscellaneous symptoms and otherwise not classified ailments (R series, 14.1%), infection (10.8%), musculoskeletal or connective tissue (9.3%), gastrointestinal (6.8%), injury (5.9%), and mental or behavioral (5.1%) categories.This study illustrates the diverse medical conditions that affect the asylum seeker population. Asylum seekers in our study group did not have a high burden of communicable diseases, however several warranted additional screening and treatment, including for tuberculosis and scabies. Respiratory illnesses were more common amongst newly arrived refugees. Trauma-related mental health disorders comprised half of mental health diagnoses.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The prevalence of psychological complaints is known to be very high in populations of asylum seekers. Despite this, data on the health care system's ability to adequately meet these high-risk populations' mental health needs are scarce. This article investigates how well the German outpatient health care system is able to detect and adequately treat them. METHODS:To this end, we combined data from a cross-sectional survey with billing data from the local social welfare office from the year 2015. Using descriptive statistics, the data of the cross-sectional study are used to quantify the psychological health care needs of asylum seekers while the secondary data analysis indicates the actual access to and extent of psychological treatment. RESULTS:In the cross-sectional study, 54% of patients were screened positive for symptoms of depression, 41% for symptoms of anxiety disorder and 18% for symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. In total, 59% were screened positive for at least one of these three disorders. However, when contrasting these screening-based prevalences with the prevalences based on data from the health care system, a mismatch becomes apparent: According to the social welfare office's billing data, only 2.6% of asylum seekers received the diagnosis of depression, 1.4% were diagnosed with anxiety disorder and 2.9% with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In combination, 4.9% were diagnosed with at least one of these three disorders. Overall, less than one tenth of asylum seekers with symptoms of depression, anxiety or PTSD received the corresponding diagnosis by the health care system. Among those who were diagnosed, about 45% received no treatment at all, while 38% were treated with drugs alone. Only 1% of all patients received psychotherapy. CONCLUSIONS:Psychological complaints are very common among asylum seekers, yet only a small proportion of this population receives the corresponding diagnoses and treatment. While various factors can contribute to these shortcomings, there is an urgent need to systematically address this deficit and introduce measures to improve mental health care for this high-risk population.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Despite large numbers of asylum seekers, there is a lack of evidence on pregnancy outcomes and obstetric care of asylum seeking women in Germany. METHODS:Cross-sectional study (2010-2016) using administrative data of the main referral hospital for pregnant asylum seekers of the reception center of a large federal state in South Germany. INCLUSION CRITERIA:women aged 12-50 years, admitted in relation to pregnancy, childbirth or post-partum complications. OUTCOMES:differences between asylum seekers and residents in the prevalence of high-risk pregnancy conditions, abortive outcomes/stillbirths, peri- and postnatal maternal complications, neonatal complications, and caesarean sections. ANALYSIS:odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) obtained by single and multiple logistic regression analysis. Attributable fractions among the exposed (Afe) and among the total population (Afp) were calculated for selected outcomes. RESULTS:Of 19,864 women admitted in relation to pregnancy, childbirth or post-partum complications, 2.9% (n?=?569) were asylum seekers. Adjusted odds for high-risk pregnancy conditions (OR?=?0.76, 95%CI: 0.63-0.91, p?<?0.0001), caesarean sections (OR?=?0.84, 95%CI 0.66-1.07, p?=?0.17) and perinatal complications (OR?=?0.65, 95%CI: 0.55-0.78, p <?0.0001) were lower; those for abortive outcomes/stillbirths (OR?=?1.58, 95%CI: 1.11-2.20, p?=?0.01) and postnatal complications (OR?=?1.80, 95%CI: 0.93-3.19, p?=?0.06) higher among asylum seeking women relative to residents in models adjusted for age, length of admission, and high-risk pregnancy conditions. The Afe for abortive outcomes and stillbirths among asylum seekers was 40.3% (95% CI, 16.3-56.5) and the Afp was 1.8%. The Afe for postnatal complications was 53.1% (95% CI, 7.1-74.0) and the Afp was 3.1%. CONCLUSION:Asylum seeking women are at higher risk of abortive outcomes/stillbirths and show a tendency towards higher postnatal complications. This excess risk calls for adequate responses by health care providers and policy makers to improve outpatient postnatal care in reception centers and mitigate adverse birth outcomes among asylum seeking women. Although further research is needed, scaling-up midwivery care, improving outreach by maternity care teams, and routinely identifying and addressing mental illness by psychosocial services could be ways forward to improve outcomes in this population.