Friday, January 4, 2008

Insurance matters

A lack of health insurance can be a death sentence. A report published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians finds that
  • For all cancer sites combined, patients who were uninsured were 1.6 times as likely to die in five years as those with private insurance.
  • The relationship between access to care and cancer outcomes is particularly striking for several cancers which can be prevented or detected earlier by screening and for which there are effective treatments, including breast and colorectal cancer. At every level of education, individuals with health insurance were about twice as likely as those without health insurance to have had mammography or colorectal cancer screening. ...
  • Women without health insurance are about half as likely as those with private health insurance to have received a mammogram in the past two years (38.1 percent of uninsured women versus 74.5 percent of insured women age 40-64), a pattern seen for all race/ethnicities studied (white, African American and Hispanic) at all levels of education.
I haven't found a link to the article itself, but EurekAlert has an extensive press release.

1 comment:

Paul Botts said...

Here's the full article:

I looked it up because that press release kept comparing those with "private insurance" only to those who are entirely without insurance. There is of course a very large additional category which seemed conspicuously absent: those with government-provided health insurance (Medicare and Medicaid). Made me curious...

And guess what: it turns out that for a lot of the outcomes they talk about, having government-provided health insurance looks a lot like having no insurance at all. Perhaps this particular graph makes that point most eloquently:

Actually for some cancers people without insurance at all do _better_ than those with government insurance:

For other cancers there is apparently so little difference in results between no insurance and government insurance that the authors just lump those two categories together in their analysis:

Seems like that data might make for a somewhat different press release?