Penn study finds uninsured more likely to die in hospital ICUs

Americans without insurance tend to wait longer before seeking care and often rely on hospital emergency rooms for routine care.

But a study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan found that uninsured patients in hospital intensive care units get less aggressive care and die more often than patients with private insurance or Medicaid.

The researchers used billing data to examine 116,995 patients less than 65 years of age who came to Pennsylvania ICUs over a two-year period . Patients without insurance were 21 percent more likely to die than patients with private insurance, the researchers found.

“We found that even when admitted to the same hospitals, and controlling for other differences between patients, critically ill individuals without insurance are less likely to survive than those with private or Medicaid insurance,” said Sarah M. Lyon, the study’s lead author.

The study was presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in New Orleans on Monday, May 17.