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Study: Uninsured Patients Get Better Care Than Insured

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Severely injured patients are less likely to be transferred to a trauma center if they have health insurance, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the Stanford University of Medicine found that patients with insurance are less likely to get the best care than those who do not have insurance. They found that insured patients taken to non-trauma hospitals were 13 to 15 percent less likely to be transferred to trauma centers than uninsured ones.

“Insured patients may, ironically, get worse outcomes because they are taken care of at a center where there’s a lower volume of resource for critically injured patients,” Dr. M. Kit Delgado, a former Stanford emergency medicine instructor, and the study’s lead author said in a press release obtained by HealthDay News.

Researchers analyzed data of more than 4,500 patients who were critically injured and receiving care at 636 hospital emergency rooms across the country.

“We hypothesize that non-trauma center hospitals are more likely to want to admit insured patients presumably because they can get reimbursed for their services,” Delgado, who is now an emergency care research scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, added in the press release.

Shootings and traffic accidents are the most common causes of death in this county among people under 44-years-old.  Previous research has shown that severely injured patients are 2 percent less likely to die if treated at a top-ranked trauma center than at a non-trauma center.

“Finding disparities in quality of trauma care based on insurance is very disturbing,” Dr. Nancy Wang, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Stanford, said in the press release.  “It is important for researchers to identify and call attention to these disparities in access to care and outcomes so that all people can receive the appropriate, high-quality care, regardless of their insurance status,” Wang added.

The study was published online in the journal JAMA Surgery.

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