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Peter Pronovost
Peter Pronovost

Lack of insurance appears tied to higher hospital death rates for children: study


By Rebecca Vesely
Posted: October 31, 2009 - 12:01 am ET
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Uninsured children are 60% more likely to die in the hospital than insured children regardless of medical condition, according to a large-scale study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Lack of health insurance may have contributed to nearly 17,000 deaths among hospitalized children nationwide in the past 20 years, they concluded.

Researchers compared health insurance coverage and risk of death in children using 23 million hospital records from 37 states between 1988 and 2005. Although they could not make a direct link between health insurance and risk of dying, they said they did find a powerful connection between the two. Insurance status did not affect how long a child remained hospitalized, they said in the study, published in the Journal of Public Health.

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About 7.3 million children were uninsured nationwide in 2008, or nearly 10% of all children, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Thousands of children die needlessly each year because we lack a health system that provides them health insurance. This should not be,” said co-investigator Peter Pronovost, director of Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins and medical director of the Center for Innovations in Quality Patient Care, in a statement.

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