Uninsured Less Likely to Get Critical Care

NEW YORK, May 1 (UPI) — People uninsured in the United States are about half as likely to receive critical care and more likely to have life support withdrawn, researchers said.

The American Thoracic Society’s Health Disparities Group conducted a review of studies and found that once the uninsured are admitted to a hospital intensive care unit, they are less likely to have invasive procedures or pulmonary artery catheterizations.

“Patients in the United States who do not have health insurance and become critically ill receive fewer critical care services and may experience worse clinical outcomes,” Dr. J. Randall Curtis, president of the American Thoracic Society and one of the investigators, said in a statement.

“Improving pre-existing healthcare coverage may be one mechanism to reduce such disparities.”

The researchers identified 29 studies that described the admissions and outcomes for critically ill patients with and without insurance.

The review, published in the May issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found the uninsured received reduced services and greater discharge delays.

“Although U.S. hospitals are legally obligated to care for patients who are emergency ill, they are not obligated to be the continuing provider for medically stabilized uninsured patients,” lead author Dr. Robert Fowler of the University of Toronto noted. The discharge delays may be due to the “difficulty in finding healthcare providers or facilities to accept these patients.”

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