(HealthDay News) – Initiation of health care reform in Massachusetts correlated with a reduction in intensive care unit (ICU) patients without insurance but did not significantly change ICU use or mortality among ICU patients, according to a study published online Nov. 22 in Critical Care Medicine.

Sarah M. Lyon, MD, from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues assessed the impact of increased insurance coverage on ICU utilization and mortality. Data were compared for nonpregnant, nonelderly adults (aged 18–64 years) admitted to nonfederal acute care hospitals in Massachusetts and four states that did not enact reform (New York, Washington, Nebraska, and North Carolina).

The researchers found that health care reform in Massachusetts correlated with a reduction in ICU patients without insurance from 9.3–5.1%. Adjusted ICU admission rates, mortality, or discharge destination did not significantly change.

“In conclusion, although the number of critically ill patients without health insurance decreased significantly after Massachusetts health care reform, our results show no significant changes in ICU utilization or change in utilization of discharge services for ICU survivors,” the authors write. “Our results suggest therefore that health insurance expansion may not further exacerbate the projected shortage of critical care beds and providers.”

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