Response Error in Reporting Dental Coverage by Older Americans in the Health and Retirement Study

Published in: INQUIRY: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing, v. 51, Jan.-Dec. 2014, p. 1-10

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2014

by John F. Moeller, Richard J Manski, Nancy A. Mathiowetz, Nancy F. Campbell, John V. Pepper

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Access further information on this document at INQUIRY: The Journal of Health Care Organization

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The aim of this research was to analyze the inconsistency in responses to survey questions within the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) regarding insurance coverage of dental services. Self-reports of dental coverage in the dental services section were compared with those in the insurance section of the 2002 HRS to identify inconsistent responses. Logistic regression identified characteristics of persons reporting discrepancies and assessed the effect of measurement error on dental coverage coefficient estimates in dental utilization models. In 18% of cases, data reported in the insurance section contradicted data reported in the dental use section of the HRS by those who said insurance at least partially covered (or would have covered) their (hypothetical) dental use. Additional findings included distinct characteristics of persons with potential reporting errors and a downward bias to the regression coefficient for coverage in a dental use model without controls for inconsistent self-reports of coverage. This study offers evidence for the need to validate self-reports of dental insurance coverage among a survey population of older Americans to obtain more accurate estimates of coverage and its impact on dental utilization.

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