BACKGROUND: Several studies have suggested that type of medical insurance coverage is associated with hospital utilization rates and receipt of selected diagnostic or treatment approaches. To our knowledge no studies, however, have examined the relation between medical insurance coverage and short-term outcomes following acute myocardial infarction (AMI) from a multihospital, community-wide perspective.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between medical insurance coverage and in-hospital case-fatality rates as well as length of hospital stay following AMI.
METHODS: The study sample consisted of 3735 residents of the Worcester, Mass, metropolitan area hospitalized with validated AMI during 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, and 1993 at all metropolitan Worcester hospitals. Data were obtained from the review of medical records. Patients were stratified into 5 medical insurance groups for purposes of analysis: private or commercial (n = 711), Medicaid (n = 101), Medicare (n = 1991), health maintenance organization (n = 741), and self-pay or other (n = 191). Crude and multivariable-adjusted analyses were used to examine the relation between medical insurance coverage and length of hospital stay and in-hospital case-fatality rates following AMI.
RESULTS: In-hospital case-fatality rates during the period under study were 7.7%, 11.9%, 21.4%, 9.3%, and 10.0% in the 5 medical insurance groups, respectively. After adjusting for several factors that may affect in-hospital mortality, relative to the referent group of private or commercial insurance patients (odds ratio, 1.0), the multivariable-adjusted odds for dying during the acute hospitalization were 0.87 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.56-1.36) for health maintenance organization patients, 1.22 (95% CI, 0.55-2.68) for Medical patients, 1.25 (95% CI, 0.85-1.84) for Medicare patients, and 1.21 (95% CI, 0.60-2.44) for self-pay or other patients. The mean length of hospitalization after excluding patients with a prolonged hospitalization was 10.1 days for private or commercial insurance patients, 9.4 days for health maintenance organization patients, 10.9 days for Medicaid patients, 11.1 days for Medicare patients, and 9.8 days for self-pay or other patients. No significant differences in the average duration of hospitalization were seen between the medical insurance groups after controlling for potential confounding variables.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this population-based study suggest that patient insurance status is not significantly associated with either length of hospital stay or short-term mortality following AMI. Other demographic and clinical prognostic factors appear to be more important predictors of short-term outcome in this patient population.
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