Health Team

Study: People without health insurance are less likely to seek emergency treatment

Posted April 13, 2010

Last December, Larry Scott had chest pains leading to a heart attack but was afraid to go to the hospital.

“I should have thought more of my family than worrying about (how) I didn't have medical insurance or (how) the bills are all going to be piling up on me,” he said.

A new study, appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 20 percent of Americans were uninsured when they had a heart attack.

Health Care Costs People without insurance are less likely to seek emergency treatment

Even though another 19 percent were insured, they still had concerns about medical costs.

Researchers studied more than 3,700 heart attack patients at 24 hospitals across the country over three years.

“Forty-nine percent of uninsured patients were more likely to wait more than six hours before coming into the hospital, and 45 percent of patients with health care insurance but with financial concerns in accessing medical care waited more than six hours before coming into the hospital,” said Dr. Paul Chan, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute who conducted the study.

Researchers said this was the first study that links health insurance status and people who delay treatment for heart attacks.

“Patients who had delays, especially delays exceeding six hours, were more likely to not receive potentially life-saving therapies such angioplasty and stents and clot-busting drugs,” Chan said.

Scott eventually received care, but his heart was damaged.

“If I had the medical insurance, this wouldn't have happened,” Scott said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Cary Parker Apr 15, 2010

    Study: People with health insurance are more likely to seek emergency treatment

    gee.... I wonder why they didn't use that headline instead??? Sometimes life is so confusing.

  • fuzzmom Apr 15, 2010

    canes017 and the eternal, I thought I was the only one with that bright thought.
    ncguy, ditto!
    beachlvr0804, not only do you avoid it to avoid the high deductible, but when you do finally go, you wait, and wait, and wait. . .

  • sparfitt Apr 15, 2010

    I know most of the Hispanic families at my school do not have health insurance coverage. They visit the ER constantly , every time their child has the sniffles they go to the ER. They are treating it like a primary care physician, so this study has no teeth as far as I am concerned. Oh and by the way, they are given care, not turned away!!!!!!

  • lizard Apr 14, 2010

    “If I had the medical insurance, this wouldn't have happened,” Scott said.

    So, go buy some. I've been paying for mine for over 30 years and used it once for an ER visit. The heart attack would have happened whether you had coverage or not. One has nothing to do with the other.

  • canes017 Apr 14, 2010

    Hmm, kind of like people that aren't billionaires are less likely to buy their own island... interesting... I'm glad we spent money on a study to determine this well hidden previously unknown fact.

  • tpbwetland Apr 14, 2010

    Tea partiers, who do not want to be forced to buy health insurance (because that is what the Constitution literally says), would rather go to the emergency room and then have someone else pay for them. You know, that ubiquitous "free lunch."

  • ncguy Apr 14, 2010

    take a trip to the ER and sit and wait for hours why they see illegals.

  • ratherbnnc Apr 14, 2010

    You R's And conservatives have an answer for everything dont ya?
    Always someone else's fault!

  • readme Apr 14, 2010

    Unless you are an illegal alien. Then you don't exactly care about the lower credit score, collections agents calls, or bills in general sent to a temporary address.

  • beachlvr0804 Apr 14, 2010

    This isn't news. People with large deductible plans also avoid the emergency room if at all possible.