Insurance Status Affects Care Related to Health Crisis

Uninsured patients seen as less likely to receive optimal care for injuries and chronic conditions

TUESDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- Although the majority of all patients receive appropriate immediate and follow-up care for "health shocks," including unintentional injuries and new chronic conditions, uninsured patients lag behind their insured counterparts, according to study findings published in the March 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Jack Hadley, Ph.D., of the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., analyzed 1997-2004 data from Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys on non-elderly subjects whose insurance status was established for two months before a sudden change in their health status. The analysis included 15,866 patients who experienced one or more unintentional injuries and 7,954 patients who developed one or more chronic conditions.

Hadley found that fewer uninsured than insured subjects received any care after an unintentional injury (78.8 percent versus 88.7 percent) or after the onset of a chronic condition (81.7 percent versus 91.5 percent). He also found that fewer uninsured than insured subjects received recommended follow-up care for an unintentional injury or a new chronic condition. After 3.5 months, more uninsured than insured subjects also reported worse health status (9.8 percent versus 6.7 percent, respectively).

"If the proportion of individuals without insurance continues to increase, more and more persons may experience preventable deteriorations in their health," the author concludes.

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