University of Vermont Associate Dean for Public Health and Health Policy Dr. Jan K. Carney, M.D., MPH, was recently featured in a Verywell Health article titled, “Insurance Status Impacts Access to Quality Surgical Care, Study Finds.”
Citing an October 2020 study by the American Cancer Society, findings suggest that uninsured patients or those with Medicare/Medicaid are less likely to have surgeries at high-volume hospitals, which are associated with better patient outcomes. Research links low-volume hospitals with higher rates of post-surgery complications and mortality.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), enacted in 2010, made some headway in reducing the number of uninsured Americans, with Dr. Carney noting that the number of uninsured nonelderly Americans decreased from over 46.5 million in 2010 to just below 27 million in 2019.
However, in 2019—Pre-COVID— 28.9 million Americans were still uninsured. With unemployment rates affected by the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic, this number is certain to have increased.
“As many people (more than 50 percent) have health insurance related to their employer, with job loss comes insurance loss,” Dr. Carney noted.
According to the Verywell Health article, pre-COVID-19, six out of every 10 uninsured individuals were eligible for financial assistance through Medicaid expansion under the ACA. As of 2020, only 37 states have opted for this expansion, resulting in millions facing high insurance premiums and a lack of assistance from their state governments.
Dr. Carney provided suggestions on the policy changes needed to allow people greater access to higher-quality care.
“There are many reasons why people do not have access to different types of health care, both primary and specialty care, including having health insurance, enough health professionals available, transportation, geographic location, etc.” Dr. Carney explained. “From the news release it is not possible to tell where these patients and hospitals are located. People in rural areas may have better access to smaller hospitals, rather than larger urban centers – one fundamental barrier to patients having some form of health insurance. This is a paper from the American College of Physicians (ACP) about ways to further strengthen the ACA. There are additional proposals from the ACP’s new vision for health care.”
Dr. Carney was also recently featured in a Business Insider article where she weighed in on the potential impact that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could have on the pandemic.