MONDAY, March 9, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Brain tumor patients with private health insurance do better than those who have Medicaid coverage or are uninsured, a new study finds.
Researchers analyzed data from more than a half-million brain tumor-related hospitalizations in the United States between 2002 and 2011.
Compared to uninsured or Medicaid patients, those with private insurance had fewer medical complications and were less likely to develop new health problems in the hospital. They also had shorter hospital stays and were 25 percent less likely to die while in the hospital, the researchers found.
Patients with private health insurance were also less likely to end up in a nursing home, rehabilitation center or hospice after leaving the hospital, according to the study recently published online in the journal Neurosurgery.
By the time brain tumor patients are hospitalized, much has already occurred that affects their outcomes, said study lead author Dr. Kristopher Hooten, a resident in the University of Florida department of neurosurgery.
"When private-insurance patients start to have a problem, it gets picked up really fast. They go to a primary doctor, who makes a quick referral to a neurologist or neurosurgeon," Hooten said in a university news release.
That isn't always the case for uninsured and Medicaid patients, who may first be seen in an emergency room when they start to develop more severe symptoms.
"It's both an access-to-care and a quality-of-care issue before patients are admitted. (Uninsured or Medicaid patients) come in when their brain tumors are more advanced," Hooten said.
Uninsured and Medicaid patients tend to do worse during hospitalization than those with private insurance, but not because patients are treated differently based on their insurance, Hooten said. It's because uninsured and Medicaid patients often have many more health problems to begin with, he added.
The National Brain Tumor Society has more about brain tumors.