Association of insurance status with health outcomes following traumatic injury: statewide multicenter analysis

Vatsal Chikani, Maureen Brophy, Anne Vossbrink, Khaleel Hussaini, Chistopher Salvino, Jeffrey Skubic, Rogelio Martinez
Western Journal of Emergency Medicine 2015, 16 (3): 408-13

INTRODUCTION: Recognizing disparities in definitive care for traumatic injuries created by insurance status may help reduce the higher risk of trauma-related mortality in this population. Our objective was to understand the relationship between patients' insurance status and trauma outcomes.

METHODS: We collected data on all patients involved in traumatic injury from eight Level I and 15 Level IV trauma centers, and four non-designated hospitals through Arizona State Trauma Registry between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011. Of 109,497 records queried, we excluded 29,062 (26.5%) due to missing data on primary payer, sex, race, zip code of residence, injury severity score (ISS), and alcohol or drug use. Of the 80,435 cases analyzed, 13.3% were self-pay, 38.8% were Medicaid, 13% were Medicare, and 35% were private insurance. We evaluated the association between survival and insurance status (private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and self-pay) using multiple logistic regression analyses after adjusting for race/ethnicity (White, Black/African American, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native), age, gender, income, ISS and injury type (penetrating or blunt).

RESULTS: The self-pay group was more likely to suffer from penetrating trauma (18.2%) than the privately insured group (6.0%), p<0.0001. There were more non-White (53%) self-pay patients compared to the private insurance group (28.3%), p<0.0001. Additionally, the self-pay group had significantly higher mortality (4.3%) as compared to private insurance (1.9%), p<0.0001. A simple logistic regression revealed higher mortality for self-pay patients (crude OR= 2.32, 95% CI [2.07-2.67]) as well as Medicare patients (crude OR= 2.35, 95% CI [2.54-3.24]) as compared to private insurance. After adjusting for confounding, a multiple logistic regression revealed that mortality was highest for self-pay patients as compared to private insurance (adjusted OR= 2.76, 95% CI [2.30-3.32]).

CONCLUSION: These results demonstrate that after controlling for confounding variables, self-pay patients had a significantly higher risk of mortality following a traumatic injury as compared to any other insurance-type groups. Further research is warranted to understand this finding and possibly decrease the mortality rate in this population.


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