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Brain Injury Linked to Increased Risk of Losing Health Insurance

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
03/10/16  9:40 AM PST
Brain Injury

By Madeline Kennedy for Reuters

(Reuters Health) – – People who suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are more likely to lose or change their private health insurance coverage just when they need it most, according to a recent U.S. analysis.

Examining a three-year period, researchers also found that the more severe the brain injury, the quicker people lost or saw changes in their health coverage.

Most subjects received health insurance through their jobs, so any change in coverage was likely due to changes in their employment, say the authors of the research letter in JAMA Surgery.

“Individuals who were the primary policy holder might have lost coverage because they were unable to continue in their job and became unemployed/uninsured,” co- author Eric Schneider of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston told Reuters Health by email.

Traumatic brain injuries account for 2.5 million emergency room visits and 280,000 hospitalizations each year in the U.S., the study team writes. Around 40 percent of traumatic brain injury survivors develop a disability, which can disrupt their ability to work, the researchers note.

Schneider and his colleagues analyzed data from MarketScan, a national commercial database of people with private health insurance and their insurance claims. The team looked at the period between January 2010 and December 2012, comparing 13,558 people under age 65 and treated for traumatic brain injury to similar individuals who did not experience TBI during that period.

The researchers found that 30.7 percent of people who suffered TBI had changes in their insurance coverage, compared to 27.6 percent of their counterparts without TBI.

The data included diagnostic information about the degree of injury, and the study team found that people with the most severe brain injuries had the shortest time between getting hurt and an experiencing an insurance change, at just under five months. People without TBI averaged about 8.5 months before a shift in their coverage.

Read the Full Article at Reuters.