Insurance status is associated with acuity of presentation and outcomes for thoracic aortic operations.
BACKGROUND: Nonelective procedure status is the greatest risk factor for postoperative morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing thoracic aortic operations. We hypothesized that uninsured patients were more likely to require nonelective thoracic aortic operation due to decreased access to preventative care and elective surgical services. METHODS AND RESULTS: An observational study of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Database identified 51 282 patients who underwent thoracic aortic surgery between 2007 and 2011 at 940 North American centers. Patients were stratified by insurance status (private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, other insurance, or uninsured) as well as age <65 or ≥65 years to account for differences in Medicare eligibility. The need for nonelective thoracic aortic operation was highest for uninsured patients (71.7%) and lowest for privately insured patients (36.6%). The adjusted risks of nonelective operation were increased for uninsured patients (adjusted risk ratio, 1.77; 95% confidence interval, 1.70-1.83 for age <65 years; adjusted risk ratio, 1.46; 95% confidence interval, 1.29-1.62 for age ≥65 years) as well as Medicaid patients aged <65 years (adjusted risk ratio, 1.18; 95% confidence interval, 1.10-1.26) when compared with patients with private insurance. The adjusted risks of major morbidity or mortality were further increased for all patients aged <65 years without private insurance (adjusted risk ratios between 1.13 and 1.27). CONCLUSIONS: Insurance status was associated with acuity of presentation and major morbidity and mortality for thoracic aortic operations. Efforts to reduce insurance-based disparities in the care of patients with thoracic aortic disease seem warranted and may reduce the incidence of aortic emergencies and improve outcomes after thoracic aortic surgery.
Andersen, ND; Brennan, JM; Zhao, Y; Williams, JB; Williams, ML; Smith, PK; Scarborough, JE; Hughes, GC
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