Health Insurance Trajectories and Long-Term Survival After Heart Transplantation

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Abstract

Background—

Health insurance status at heart transplantation influences recipient survival, but implications of change in insurance for long-term outcomes are unclear.

Methods and Results—

Adults aged 18 to 64 receiving first-time orthotopic heart transplants between July 2006 and December 2013 were identified in the United Network for Organ Sharing registry. Patients surviving >1 year were categorized according to trajectory of insurance status (private compared with public) at wait listing, transplantation, and 1-year follow-up. The most common insurance trajectories were continuous private coverage (44%), continuous public coverage (27%), and transition from private to public coverage (11%). Among patients who survived to 1 year (n=9088), continuous public insurance (hazard ratio =1.36; 95% confidence interval 1.19, 1.56; P<0.001) and transition from private to public insurance (hazard ratio =1.25; 95% confidence interval 1.04, 1.50; P=0.017) were associated with increased mortality hazard relative to continuous private insurance. Supplementary analyses of 11 247 patients included all durations of post-transplant survival and examined post-transplant private-to-public and public-to-private transitions as time-varying covariates. In these analyses, transition from private to public insurance was associated with increased mortality hazard (hazard ratio =1.25; 95% confidence interval 1.07, 1.47; P=0.005), whereas transition from public to private insurance was associated with lower mortality hazard (hazard ratio =0.78; 95% confidence interval 0.62, 0.97; P=0.024).

Conclusions—

Transition from private to public insurance after heart transplantation is associated with worse long-term outcomes, compounding disparities in post-transplant survival attributed to insurance status at transplantation. By contrast, post-transplant gain of private insurance among patients receiving publicly funded heart transplants was associated with improved outcomes.

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