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Health Care Reform in Mass. Affects Survival in Trauma Patients

No impact on health insurance coverage for patients hospitalized post-injury, but increase in mortality

THURSDAY, May 7, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Implementation of health care reform in Massachusetts did not seem to affect health insurance coverage for patients hospitalized following injury, but was associated with increased mortality rates, according to a study published online May 6 in JAMA Surgery.

Turner Osler, M.D., from the University of Vermont in Colchester, and colleagues examined the effect of Massachusetts health care reform on survival in injured patients. Data were included for 1,520,599 patients hospitalized following traumatic injury in Massachusetts and New York during a 10-year period (2002 to 2011). Massachusetts health care reform was introduced in 2006.

The researchers found that the rates of uninsured trauma patients in Massachusetts decreased steadily during the study period, from 14.9 percent in 2002 to 5.0 percent in 2011. In New York, the rates decreased from 14.9 to 10.5 percent during the same period. In the three years following implementation of health care reform, the risk-adjusted difference-in-difference assessment revealed a transient increase of 604 excess deaths in Massachusetts.

"Health care reform did not affect health insurance coverage for patients hospitalized following injury but was associated with a transient increase in adjusted mortality rates," the authors write. "Reducing mortality rates for acutely injured patients may require more comprehensive interventions than simply promoting health insurance coverage through legislation."

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