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Uninsured Children May Be More Likely to Die in the Hospital

Study finds they have a 1.6-fold increased mortality risk compared with insured children

FRIDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- In-hospital all-cause mortality is higher among uninsured children than among those who have insurance, according to a study published in the October issue of the Journal of Public Health.

Fizan Abdullah, M.D., of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed data from two inpatient databases covering more than 23 million U.S. children younger than 18 years old. They classified patients as uninsured (5.4 percent) or insured -- including Medicaid and private insurance (94.6 percent) -- and adjusted for factors including age, race, gender and geographic region.

The researchers found that the adjusted mortality rate was 0.46 percent for insured children and 0.74 percent for uninsured children. A multivariate analysis determined that uninsured pediatric patients had a 1.6-fold increased mortality risk compared with insured pediatric patients. The researchers estimated that 37.8 percent of the deaths among uninsured patients might have been prevented by insurance coverage.

"In conclusion, children who were hospitalized without insurance have significantly increased all-cause in-hospital mortality as compared with children who present with insurance. Given these results and the increasing number of uninsured children, governmental and societal priorities should shift to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our society have health insurance," the authors conclude.

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