• I recently came across a couple of studies about health insurance that I found truly troubling because of the messages they convey.  One study concluded that having no health insurance while hospitalized can lead to less effective care.  The other indicated that having health insurance while hospitalized can lead to less effective care.  See the problem?

    A January 2014 study at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences found that uninsured patients with a range of medical diagnoses are significantly less likely to be transferred between hospitals for treatment. [1] This was contrary to the study’s original presumption that uninsured patients would be transferred between hospitals on a more frequent basis because they were “unprofitable.”  The projected result?  Uninsured patients face reduced access to health care, and are not necessarily being transferred when they should be.

    On the other hand, a February 2014 study published in JAMA Surgery by researchers at Stanford University Medical Center concluded that emergency rooms are less likely to transfer injured patients to trauma centers if they have health insurance because these patients are profitable.[2]  Thus, patients without insurance can be at less risk for receiving sub-optimal trauma care than those with insurance.

    As attorneys representing individuals who are seriously injured, we often see clients with and without health insurance.  Despite the conflicting messages of the studies above, it is always our recommendation that those who have access to health insurance carry it, and not simply because it is now the law.  It’s impossible to predict how serious an injury will be, or how much care it will ultimately require.  Having health insurance will afford greater access to care and a greater chance for a speedy recovery.

    [1] Janel Hanmer, Xin Lu, Gary E. Rosenthal, Peter Cram. Insurance Status and the Transfer of Hospitalized Patients. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2014; 160 (2): 81-90 DOI: 10.7326/M12-1977

    [2] M. Kit Delgado, Michael A. Yokell, Kristan L. Staudenmayer, David A. Spain, Tina Hernandez-Boussard, N. Ewen Wang. Factors Associated With the Disposition of Severely Injured Patients Initially Seen at Non–Trauma Center Emergency Departments. JAMA Surgery, 2014; DOI: 10.1001/jamasurg.2013.4398


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