Supplemental insurance and mortality in elderly Americans: Findings from a national cohort

M. P. Doescher, Peter Franks, J. S. Banthin, C. M. Clancy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Context: As the burden of out-of-pocket health care expenditures for Medicare beneficiaries has grown, the need to assess the relationship between uncovered costs and health outcomes has become more pressing. Objective: To assess the relationship between risk for out-of-pocket expenditures and mortality in elderly persons with private supplemental insurance. Design: Retrospective cohort study using proportional hazards survival analyses to assess mortality as a function of health insurance, adjusting for sociodemographic, access, and case mix-health status measures. Setting: The 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey, a representative cohort of the US civilian population, linked to the National Death Index. Participants: A total of 3751 persons aged 65 years and older. Main Outcomes Measures: Five-year mortality rate. Results: After 5 years, 18.5% of persons at low risk for out-of-pocket expenditures, 22.5% of those at intermediate risk, and 22.6% of those at high risk had died. After multivariate adjustment, a significant linear trend (P = .02) toward increasing mortality with increasing risk category was observed. Compared with the low-risk group, persons in the intermediate-risk group had an adjusted hazard ratio of 1.2 (95% confidence interval, 0.9-1.6), whereas those in the high-risk group had an adjusted hazard ratio of 1.4 (95% confidence interval, 1.0-1.9). Conclusions: Increasing risk for out-of-pocket costs is associated with higher subsequent mortality among elderly Americans with supplemental private coverage. Although research is needed to identify which specific components of out-of-pocket expenditures are adversely associated with health outcomes, findings support policies to decrease out-of-pocket health care expenditures to reduce the risk for premature mortality in elderly Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Family Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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