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Heart Failure Care Influenced by Insurance Coverage
Date:9/20/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- The quality of care people with heart failure receive, along with outcomes, are significantly influenced by what type of insurance patients have, a new study finds.

Medicare and Medicaid patients and those without health insurance are less likely to be given some essential treatments and tend to be hospitalized longer, researchers report. Medicaid patients were 22 percent more likely to die in the hospital than patients with private insurance, the researchers said.

"I wish the results revealed a different story," said lead researcher Dr. John R. Kapoor, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

The findings reveal that disparities in heart failure care do exist and are associated with worse outcomes, he added, and these unequal practices should be corrected.

"It remains medicine's major unhealed wound that care continues to be tailored to individuals based on their pocketbook, and not their condition," he said. "Quality of care for all patients --- insured and uninsured -- is priceless."

The report will be published in the Sept. 27 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

For the study, Kapoor's team collected data on 99,508 heart failure patients seen in 244 hospitals that are part of the American Heart Association's Get with the Guidelines Heart Failure quality program.

The researchers found that, even among these hospitals, insurance coverage had an influence on how the guidelines were applied.

For example, compared with privately insured patients, patients with Medicaid or no insurance were less likely to be given blood pressure drugs called beta blockers or have an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator prescribed or placed before leaving the hospital. A cardioverter-defibrillator automatically delivers a shock to the hear
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