Pay Up or Die


A trauma victim arriving at a hospital emergency room but requiring specialized intensive care would usually be transferred promptly to a qualified "trauma center," whose success rate with such patients is believed to be 25 percent better than that of ordinary hospitals. However, a recent study from Stanford University researchers found that, among 636 hospitals observed, there was a greater reluctance to make the transfer — if the patient was fully insured. That is, the authors suggest, there's a tendency for hospitals to hang on to insured patients, even though their outcomes might be worse, but not hang on to the uninsured — who are more likely to be properly transferred.

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