Insurance Patients More Likely to Live

BUFFALO, N.Y., June 14 (UPI) — Insured patients treated for gunshot wounds or auto accident injuries are more likely to die than those privately insured, U.S. researchers found.

Dr. Dietrich Jehle, a professor of emergency medicine at the University at Buffalo who was the study’s first author, said the research team analyzed data of 191,666 patients from 649 facilities from the National Trauma Data Bank for 2001-05.

The study found patients covered by Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance and health managed care organizations had better mortality rates for all injuries than those without insurance.

“Both race and insurance status are independent predictors of mortality rates for trauma outcomes, and of the two, insurance status, specifically lack of coverage, is the most significant,” Jehle said in a statement. “This is not unexpected, since uninsured adult patients in general have a 25 percent greater morality rate than insured adults for all medical conditions.”

The researchers have no clear cause for the disparity, but Jehle said a lack of health insurance may delay treatment making any injury worse, the uninsured may drive older, less safer vehicles, or the uninsured may engage in more risk-taking activity.

However, “Research shows that, for other than trauma injuries, the uninsured may actually receive less aggressive treatment and fewer diagnostic procedures,” Jehle said.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine in Phoenix.

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