KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Study: ICU Patients Without Insurance Coverage More Likely To Die

A study released Monday has found that intensive care patients who didn't have insurance were 21 percent more likely to die than those with insurance in Pennsylvania, Reuters reports. The University of Pennsylvania researchers' "study of intensive care units or ICUs in Pennsylvania adds to arguments that a lack of health insurance can be deadly. Health insurance reform legislation signed into law last March aims to sharply reduce the numbers of Americans - currently around 15 percent of the population - who do not have health insurance." The researchers looked at nearly 167,000 patients under age 65 during 2005 and 2006 in Pennsylvania ICUs. "The uninsured patients were 21 percent more likely to die within 30 days than patients with private insurance, the researchers told a meeting in New Orleans of the American Thoracic Society." Researchers worry that in addition to arriving at the hospital in more advanced stages of disease because they don't have the access to doctors that some have, that some physicians and hospitals may treat them differently because they don't have insurance. "In September, Harvard Medical School researchers reported that nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year because they lack health insurance" (Fox, 5/17).

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