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Insurance type impacts the economic burden and survival of patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma.

Al's Comment:

 As expected, the better insurance you have the better you will do.  This is very significant when we start talking about Medicare for all.  The most popular "medicare for all" plan really is Medicaid for all. It sounds good with no copayments or deductibles, but when you try to limit costs especially for complex cases like a brain tumor, quality has to suffer.

One fault in the article- it says Medicare patients do not live as long as private insurance payments, but they did not correct for age.  Medicare patients are usually older than private insurance patients, especially at the time of the first surgery.  Older people in general do not do as well as younger people.



Posted on: 07/06/2019

  J Neurosurg. 2019 Jun 21:1-11. doi: 10.3171/2019.3.JNS182629. [Epub ahead of print]

Insurance type impacts the economic burden and survival of patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma.

Chandra A, Young JS, Dalle Ore C, Dayani F, Lau D, Wadhwa H, Rick JW, Nguyen AT, McDermott MW, Berger MS, Aghi MK.
Glioblastoma (GBM) carries a high economic burden for patients and caregivers, much of which is associated with initial surgery. The authors investigated the impact of insurance status on the inpatient hospital costs of surgery for patients with GBM.
The authors conducted a retrospective review of patients with GBM (2010-2015) undergoing their first resection at the University of California, San Francisco, and corresponding inpatient hospital costs.
Of 227 patients with GBM (median age 62 years, 37.9% females), 31 (13.7%) had Medicaid, 94 (41.4%) had Medicare, and 102 (44.9%) had private insurance. Medicaid patients had 30% higher overall hospital costs for surgery compared to non-Medicaid patients ($50,285 vs $38,779, p = 0.01). Medicaid patients had higher intensive care unit (ICU; p < 0.01), operating room (p < 0.03), imaging (p < 0.001), room and board (p < 0001), and pharmacy (p < 0.02) costs versus non-Medicaid patients. Medicaid patients had significantly longer overall and ICU lengths of stay (6.9 and 2.6 days) versus Medicare (4.0 and 1.5 days) and privately insured patients (3.9 and 1.8 days, p < 0.01). Medicaid patients had similar comorbidity rates to Medicare patients (67.8% vs 68.1%), and both groups had higher comorbidity rates than privately insured patients (37.3%, p < 0.0001). Only 67.7% of Medicaid patients had primary care providers (PCPs) versus 91.5% of Medicare and 86.3% of privately insured patients (p = 0.009) at the time of presentation. Tumor diameter at diagnosis was largest for Medicaid (4.7 cm) versus Medicare (4.1 cm) and privately insured patients (4.2 cm, p = 0.03). Preoperative (70 vs 90, p = 0.02) and postoperative (80 vs 90, p = 0.03) Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) scores were lowest for Medicaid versus non-Medicaid patients, while in subgroup analysis, postoperative KPS score was lowest for Medicaid patients (80, vs 90 for Medicare and 90 for private insurance; p = 0.03). Medicaid patients had significantly shorter median overall survival (10.7 months vs 12.8 months for Medicare and 15.8 months for private insurance; p = 0.02). Quality-adjusted life year (QALY) scores were 0.66 and 1.05 for Medicaid and non-Medicaid patients, respectively (p = 0.036). The incremental cost per QALY was $29,963 lower for the non-Medicaid cohort.
Patients with GBMs and Medicaid have higher surgical costs, longer lengths of stay, poorer survival, and lower QALY scores. This study indicates that these patients lack PCPs, have more comorbidities, and present later in the disease course with larger tumors; these factors may drive the poorer postoperative function and greater consumption of hospital resources that were identified. Given limited resources and rising healthcare costs, factors such as access to PCPs, equitable adjuvant therapy, and early screening/diagnosis of disease need to be improved in order to improve prognosis and reduce hospital costs for patients with GBM.
PMID: 31226687 


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