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Study by cardiologists demonstrates better care, higher survival rates for privately insured patients

In reporting a study that was described as "shocking and equally disturbing" by one of its cardiologist authors, the September 27 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology documents that the outcomes for cardiology patients vary by the type of medical coverage they enjoy.  HealthDay reported on September 21 that the study evaluated the medical charts of 99,508 patients from 244 different hospitals that had agreed to participate in the AHA national quality improvement program.  Even in these hospitals that had opted to participate in a quality improvement program, it was determined that Medicare and Medicaid patients and uninsured patients were less likely to receive certain essential treatments and more likely to die in the hospital, than  were patients who are covered by private insurance plans.

The study noted that "disparities do exist" and they are "associated with worse outcomes."  One of the authors explained that "care continues to be tailored to the individuals bsed on their pocketbook, and not on their condition." Patients with no coverage, Medicare or Medicaid were less likely to be given any of several blood pressure medications and less likely to receive an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, all "proven therapies" that result in documented improvement in recovery and decreased mortality.  In part because of the failure to provide evidence-based therapies, the hospital stays for uninsured or publicly-insured patients are also longer.  The authors questioned whether the results are also influenced by the obvious socio-economic disparity between privately-insured patients and the the other groups with whom they were compared.

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