Does your medical care reflect your insurance (or lack thereof)?

If you don't have medical insurance at all -- or, perhaps, have medical insurance that's provided through a government assistance program like Medicaid -- do you get subpar treatment when you see a doctor or end up in the emergency room of the local hospital?

In theory, every patient gets the same treatment. In reality, studies say that insurance-based discrimination is very real and affects patients in a multitude of ways.

Researchers in one study determined that approximately 9.3 percent of the patients in the study overall reported some form of discrimination based on their insurance. However, the results were very different when they divided patients up according to their insurance. When privately insured patients were examined alone, only 3.3 percent reported insurance-based discrimination. Those with public insurance, however, reported discrimination 21 percent of the time. When researchers looked at those with no insurance, the percentage soared to 24.8 percent.

In other studies, researchers found that uninsured patients who suffer a head injury can expect to receive a CT scan 13 percent less often than patients with insurance. They are also less likely to be given an x-ray when they suffer a pelvic fracture and less likely to be given surgery when they suffer a spinal fracture.

When asked, providers sometimes claim they are trying to spare patients the excess cost of potentially unnecessary tests, but researchers suspect that some physicians are actually cost-conscious. In many cases, they may be pushed along by the administration of their practice or hospital.

Do you think your quality of care from a doctor or hospital suffered because you had subpar insurance or no insurance at all? Do you believe that the lack of care or delay in treatment caused you additional injuries on top of whatever condition you were already suffering from? If so, it's time to find out more about your right to file a medical malpractice suit. All patients deserve to be treated with equal professionalism and concern -- regardless of the insurance card they carry.

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Vincent J. DeSalvo, Attorney at Law
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