Expanded Public Insurance Coverage for HIV-Positive Individuals Could Cut AIDS-Related Deaths by 66%, Study Says
Expanding public insurance coverage of HIV-positive people could cut AIDS-related deaths by as much as 66%, according to a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Health Economics, according to a Stanford University release. Researchers from Stanford's Center for Health Policy/Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research and the RAND Corp. used data from the HIV Costs and Services Utilization Study, a large national survey conducted by the federal government that collected information on a random sample of nearly 2,500 people treated for HIV between 1996 and 1999. After adjusting for the severity of patients' illnesses, the researchers found that the mortality rate for publicly insured HIV-positive people is 66% lower than the mortality rate for uninsured HIV-positive people. According to the release, expanding public-insurance coverage for HIV/AIDS patients therefore could increase by 66% the number of HIV/AIDS patients who survive in a given year. The researchers also found that public insurance is 20% less effective than private insurance in preventing AIDS-related deaths. In addition, the study found that the mortality rates among publicly insured HIV/AIDS patients in states with less restrictive eligibility for Medicaid programs were "significantly lower" than in states with more restrictive eligibility requirements, according to the release. The researchers said that the eligibility requirements of many states' Medicaid programs "effectively force HIV/AIDS patients to get very sick, or very poor, or both, before they [qualify] for coverage," according to the release (Stanford release, 12/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.