Patterns: Race and Health Coverage Affect Survival

by Lesley Politi on October 21, 2008

October 21, 2008
Vital Signs

Patterns: Race and Health Coverage Affect Survival



Whether you survive after a serious accident may depend on your race and your health insurance, a new study concludes.

Researchers examined the records of more than 310,000 trauma patients whose cases were entered in a national databank that includes information on race, age, severity and type of injury, insurance status, and mortality.

After controlling for severity of injury and other factors, they found that compared with whites, African-Americans had a 17 percent increased risk of death and Hispanics a 47 percent increased risk.

When they looked at patients with health insurance, they found a greater disparity. Insured African-Americans had a 20 percent increased death risk compared with insured whites, and Hispanics a 51 percent increased risk. The study appears in the October issue of The Archives of Surgery.

“This study refutes the notion that racial disparities in trauma care are merely a reflection of insurance status,” said the lead author, Dr. Adil H. Haider, an assistant professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins. “Both insurance and race are independent predictors of mortality after trauma. And of the two, insurance is the more important predictor.”

The authors acknowledge that the study was retrospective and based on records that did not give complete medical information on each patient. Also, people with insurance may be generally healthier and have an increased ability to survive traumatic injury.


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