Study: Type of insurance tied to heart failure outcomes

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Heart failure patients who are Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries — or who are uninsured — are less likely to receive essential treatments and tend to be hospitalized for longer periods of time than those who are privately insured, a new study finds.

Additionally, Medicaid recipients with heart failure are 22% more likely to die in the hospital than patients with private insurance, according to investigators from the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine.

In analyzing data collected data from 99,508 heart failure patients, researchers found that individuals receiving Medicaid, and those who were uninsured, were less likely to receive drugs such as beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers. This group of patients also were less likely to be implanted with cardioverter-defibrillator before being discharged from the hospital, compared to those with private insurance.

The study suggests that access to specialists and the patient's socioeconomic may be a factor in the care these individuals receive.

"These shocking and equally disturbing findings call for physicians to pause and reflect on practice behaviors," said lead researcher John R. Kapoor, M.D. “Quality care should be a priority, irrespective of financial incentives.”

The study was published in the Sept. 27 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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