Study: Injured Uninsured in Greater Peril

January 29, 2003 ( - Wisconsin accident victims without health coverage were 37% more likely to die from their injuries than those with coverage, according to a new study.

Joseph Doyle Jr., an assistant professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts, found that the uninsured got 20% less care than their insured counterparts when it came to things like X-rays, drugs, and the length of their hospital stay, Dow Jones reported.

Doyle studied 11,000 “severe accident cases” where victims were immediately hospitalized on police orders.

To eliminate factors such as risky behavior and lower economic status, which are often attributed to uninsured people, Doyle compared the results of people without health insurance but with auto insurance to people without auto insurance but with health insurance. He found the same results.

“People who don’t have auto insurance tend to have the same risky behavior as people without health insurance,” Doyle told Dow Jones. “This suggests to me that it’s the ability to pay that determines the treatment as opposed to any difference in income or risky driving behavior.”

People who can’t afford health insurance, should still buy catastrophic health coverage which often pays for   emergency room visits, he said.