Survival Rates in Trauma Patients Following Health Care Reform in Massachusetts

Published in: JAMA Surgery, Volume 150, Issue 7, pages 609–615 (July 2015). doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2014.2464

Posted on RAND.org on January 28, 2021

by Turner M. Osler, Laurent G. Glance, Wenjun Li, Jeffery S. Buzas, David W. Hosmer

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Importance

Massachusetts introduced health care reform (HCR) in 2006, expecting to expand health insurance coverage and improve outcomes. Because traumatic injury is a common acute condition with important health, disability, and economic consequences, examination of the effect of HCR on patients hospitalized following injury may help inform the national HCR debate.

Objective

To examine the effect of Massachusetts HCR on survival rates of injured patients.

Design, Setting, and Participants

Retrospective cohort study of 1,520,599 patients hospitalized following traumatic injury in Massachusetts or New York during the 10 years (2002–2011) surrounding Massachusetts HCR using data from the State Inpatient Databases. We assessed the effect of HCR on mortality rates using a difference-in-differences approach to control for temporal trends in mortality.

Intervention

Health care reform in Massachusetts in 2006.

Main Outcome and Measure

Survival until hospital discharge.

Results

During the 10-year study period, the rates of uninsured trauma patients in Massachusetts decreased steadily from 14.9% in 2002 to 5.0.% in 2011. In New York, the rates of uninsured trauma patients fell from 14.9% in 2002 to 10.5% in 2011. The risk-adjusted difference-in-difference assessment revealed a transient increase of 604 excess deaths (95% CI, 419–790) in Massachusetts in the 3 years following implementation of HCR.

Conclusions and Relevance

Health care reform did not affect health insurance coverage for patients hospitalized following injury but was associated with a transient increase in adjusted mortality rates. Reducing mortality rates for acutely injured patients may require more comprehensive interventions than simply promoting health insurance coverage through legislation.

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