Lack of Health Insurance Leads to Delayed Diagnoses, Premature Death, IOM Study Finds
As expected, the Institute of Medicine yesterday released a report demonstrating that the lack of health insurance leads to "delayed diagnoses, life-threatening complications" and as many as 18,000 "premature" deaths annually, the Washington Post reports. The report, a "detailed analysis" of 130 studies focusing on the uninsured, is the first comprehensive study of the "medical consequences" of not having health insurance. Among the report's findings:
- A lack of insurance leads each year to 360 to 600 "premature" breast cancer deaths, 1,200 to 1,400 deaths among HIV-positive adults and 1,400 premature deaths due to undertreated hypertension (Connolly, Washington Post, 5/22).
- Uninsured people with breast or colon cancer have a 50% higher risk of death than people with insurance.
- Trauma victims without health insurance are less likely to be admitted to a hospital or receive the "full range of needed services" and are 37% more likely to die from their injuries.
- Approximately 25% of uninsured people with diabetes went a year or more without receiving a checkup from a physician (Sternberg, USA Today, 5/22).
Overall, uninsured adults between the ages of 25 and 64 are 25% more likely to die prematurely than people with insurance. "We hope this report will bring the health problems of the uninsured back to center stage and back to the public policy arena," Dr. John Ayanian, associate professor of medicine and health care policy at Harvard Medical School and a member of the report committee, said (Kemper, Los Angeles Times, 5/22). The report is the second in a planned series of six studies investigating the United States' "fragmented health system" (USA Today, 5/22). The report is available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.