Insurance and education predict long-term survival after orthotopic heart transplantation in the United States.
BACKGROUND: Insurance status and education are known to affect health outcomes. However, their importance in orthotopic heart transplantation (OHT) is unknown. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database provides a large cohort of OHT recipients in which to evaluate the effect of insurance and education on survival. METHODS: UNOS data were retrospectively reviewed to identify adult primary OHT recipients (1997 to 2008). Patients were stratified by insurance at the time of transplantation (private/self-pay, Medicare, Medicaid, and other) and college education. All-cause mortality was examined using multivariable Cox proportional hazard regression incorporating 15 variables. Survival was modeled using the Kaplan-Meier method. RESULTS: Insurance for 20,676 patients was distributed as follows: private insurance/self-pay, 12,298 (59.5%); Medicare, 5,227 (25.3%); Medicaid, 2,320 (11.2%); and "other" insurance, 831 (4.0%). Educational levels were recorded for 15,735 patients (76.1% of cohort): 7,738 (49.2%) had a college degree. During 53 ± 41 months of follow-up, 6,125 patients (29.6%) died (6.7 deaths/100 patient-years). Survival differed by insurance and education. Medicare and Medicaid patients had 8.6% and 10.0% lower 10-year survival, respectively, than private/self-pay patients. College-educated patients had 7.0% higher 10-year survival. On multivariable analysis, college education decreased mortality risk by 11%. Medicare and Medicaid increased mortality risk by 18% and 33%, respectively (p ≤ 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Our study examining insurance and education in a large cohort of OHT patients found that long-term mortality after OHT is higher in Medicare/Medicaid patients and in those without a college education. This study points to potential differences in the care of OHT patients based on education and insurance status.
Allen, JG; Weiss, ES; Arnaoutakis, GJ; Russell, SD; Baumgartner, WA; Shah, AS; Conte, JV
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