Background: Despite widely documented variations in health care outcomes by insurance status, few nationally representative studies have examined such disparities in the inpatient setting.
Objective: To determine whether there are insurance-related differences in hospital care for 3 common medical conditions.
Design and subjects: Retrospective database analysis of 154,381 adult discharges (age 18-64 years) with a principal diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI), stroke, or pneumonia from the 2005 Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS).
Measurements: For each diagnosis, we compared in-hospital mortality, length of stay (LOS), and cost per hospitalization for Medicaid and uninsured patients with the privately insured.
Results: Compared with the privately insured, in-hospital mortality among AMI and stroke patients was significantly higher for the uninsured (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.52, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.24-1.85] for AMI and 1.49 [1.29-1.72] for stroke) and among pneumonia patients was significantly higher for Medicaid recipients (1.21 [1.01-1.45]). Excluding patients who died during hospitalization, LOS was consistently longer for Medicaid recipients for all 3 conditions (adjusted ratio 1.07, 95% CI [1.05-1.09] for AMI, 1.17 [1.14-1.20] for stroke, and 1.04 [1.03-1.06] for pneumonia), although costs were significantly higher for Medicaid recipients for only 2 of the 3 conditions (adjusted ratio 1.06, 95% CI [1.04-1.09] for stroke and 1.05 [1.04-1.07] for pneumonia).
Conclusions: In this nationally representative study of working-age Americans hospitalized for 3 common medical conditions, significantly lower in-hospital mortality was noted for privately insured patients compared with the uninsured or Medicaid recipients. Interventions to reduce insurance-related gaps in inpatient quality of care should be investigated.