To the Editor:
Approximately 3% of the US population, or 6.9 million adults, is affected by psoriasis.1 Psoriasis has a substantial impact on quality of life and is associated with increased health care expenses and medication costs. In 2013, it was reported that the estimated US annual cost—direct, indirect, intangible, and comorbidity costs—of psoriasis for adults was $112 billion.2 We investigated the prevalence and sociodemographic characteristics of adult psoriasis patients (aged ≥20 years) with financial insecurity utilizing the 2009–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data.3
We conducted a population-based, cross-sectional study focused on patients 20 years and older with psoriasis from the 2009-2014 NHANES database to evaluate financial insecurity. Financial insecurity was evaluated by 2 outcome variables. The primary outcome variable was assessed by the question “Are you covered by health insurance or some other kind of health care plan (including health insurance obtained through employment or purchased directly as well as government programs like Medicare and Medicaid that provide medical care or help pay medical bills)?”3 Our secondary outcome variable was evaluated by a reported annual household income of less than $20,000. P values in Table 1 were calculated using Pearson χ2 tests. In Table 2, multivariate logistic regressions were performed using Stata/MP 17 (StataCorp LLC) to analyze associations between outcome variables and sociodemographic characteristics. Additionally, we controlled for age, race/ethnicity, sex, education, marital status, US citizenship status, and tobacco use. Subsequently, relationships with P<.05 were considered statistically significant.
Our analysis comprised 480 individuals with psoriasis; 40 individuals were excluded from our analysis because they did not report annual household income and health insurance status (Table 1). Among the 480 individuals with psoriasis, approximately 16% (weighted) reported a lack of health insurance, and approximately 17% (weighted) reported an annual household income of less than $20,000. Among those who reported an annual household income of less than $20,000, approximately 38% (weighted) of them reported that they did not have health insurance.
Multivariate logistic regression analyses revealed that elderly individuals (aged >60 years), college graduates, married individuals, and US citizens had decreased odds of lacking health insurance (Table 2). Additionally, those with a history of tobacco use (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.02; 95% CI, 1.00-4.05) were associated with lacking health insurance. Non-Hispanic Black individuals (AOR 2.26; 95% CI, 1.09-4.71) and US citizens (AOR 5.01; 95% CI, 1.28-19.63) had a significant association with an annual household income of less than $20,000 (P<.05). Lastly, males, those with education beyond ninth grade, and married individuals had a significantly decreased odds of having an annual household income of less than $20,000 (P<.05)(Table 2).
Our findings indicate that certain sociodemographic groups of psoriasis patients have an increased risk for being financially insecure. It is important to evaluate the cost of treatment, number of necessary visits to the office, and cost of transportation, as these factors can serve as a major economic burden to patients being managed for psoriasis.4 Additionally, the cost of biologics has been increasing over time.5 Taking all of this into account when caring for psoriasis patients is crucial, as understanding the financial status of patients can assist with determining appropriate individualized treatment regimens.