(HealthDay News) – Examining hospital quality differences by various patient insurance groups would help reduce care disparities, according to a study published in the October issue of Health Affairs.

Christine S. Spencer, ScD, from the University of Baltimore, and colleagues examined the extent to which a patient’s type or lack of insurance plays a role in determining the quality of care received at any given hospital. Comparisons were made for within-hospital quality, as measured by risk-adjusted mortality rates, for patients based on their insurance status. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Inpatient Quality Indicators and pooled (2006–2008) State Inpatient Database records from 11 states were examined.

The researchers found that privately insured patients had lower risk-adjusted mortality rates than Medicare enrollees for 12 of 15 of the quality measures analyzed. Privately insured patients also had lower risk-adjusted mortality rates, though to a lesser extent, than those in other payer groups. Medicare patients seemed especially vulnerable to receiving inferior care.

“These findings suggest that to help reduce care disparities, public payers and hospitals should measure care quality for different insurance groups and monitor differences in treatment practices within hospitals,” the authors write.

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