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Sach D. Oliver
Sach D. Oliver
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Underinsured More Likely to Die

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Uninsured More Likely to Die?

I just read a not-so-recent article in the LA Times which makes one think.[1] It points out that there is a relationship between insurance coverage and the survival rates of ER trauma patients. The article states that those ER patients who lack healthcare insurance coverage are much more likely to die from traumatic injuries.

The article states that in the course of a year, about 18,000 deaths are traceable to a lack of insurance coverage. The article points out that this number includes all types of patients, as the uninsured are less likely to have preventative screenings and measures taken.[2] However, one would think that the likelihood of an uninsured ER patient dying as a result of a traumatic injury would be in-line with that of the insured, due to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, passed by Congress in 1986, which “guarantees that people brought to emergency rooms get all necessary treatment no matter what kind of insurance they do — or don’t — have.”[3]

The discrepancy, however is very wide. The article stated that the uninsured ER trauma patients are 80% more likely to die. The article however, only points to a relationship between the two factors. The lack of insurance does not equate to a cause and effect relationship. The article cites various factor for this including, hospitals with fewer resources seeing uninsured patients, type of injury (gunshot and stabbing victims involved in crime), underlying conditions, and passiveness around doctors and nurses due to a lack of prior experiences with healthcare professionals. While the factors are various, the numbers are alarming and relevant to our times. But as the author points out “more research is needed to figure out whether lack of insurance actually harms trauma patients or whether the data simply reflect a correlation.”[4]



[1] “Uninsured Trauma Patients are Much More Likely to Die,” available at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-sci-trauma-uninsured17-2009nov17,0,4308260.story, (Accessed May 14, 2010).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.