Background Heart transplantation outcomes differ by health insurance status and geographic region of the United States. We hypothesized that heart transplantation survival would be affected by health insurance status within certain United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) regions. Methods We used data from the UNOS thoracic database to classify health insurance status into private or public (private/self-pay or Medicare/Medicaid) for all first-time heart transplant recipients between July 2006 and September 2013. We applied Cox proportional hazards regression to estimate hazard ratio (HR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) for the influences of health insurance status on 1-year and long-term survival in heart transplant recipients by UNOS region. Results Mean survival time among 10,474 patients was 942 days ± 704. All key demographic and clinical variables varied significantly across UNOS regions. With respect to 1-year survival, patients in Region 2 had a higher hazard of mortality (HR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.03, 2.15) if they had public vs private insurance. When we restricted the analysis to be conditional on 1-year survival, 2 contiguous regions, Region 10, including Indiana, Ohio, Michigan (HR, 2.30; 95% CI, 1.23, 4.28), and Region 11 (HR, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.15, 2.97), including the upper South, had poor survival associated with public vs private insurance. Conclusions The data we present invite targeted efforts by certain UNOS regions to improve the standard of care and/or eligibility thresholds for heart transplant recipients.
- health insurance
- heart transplantation