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Researchers at John Hopkins University recently made a horrific discovery: uninsured children who are hospitalized are more likely to die than children with government or private health insurance. In fact, the researchers estimated that approximately 37.8%, or 17,000 child deaths could have been avoided if the more children had health insurance coverage.

The researchers analyzed data from 23 million children’s hospitalizations in 37 states from 1988 to 2005. According to the data, when the researchers compared uninsured children with insured children, the uninsured faced a 60% increased risk of dying.

While the study was not meant to identify why uninsured children were more likely to die, the researchers did find a potential culprit for the increase in deaths amongst uninsured children. Specifically, uninsured children were more likely to access health care through the emergency room, which suggests that many uninsured children were in advanced stages of illness prior to seeking medical attention. Furthermore, uninsured children were hospitalized for less time than insured children: on the average, uninsured children were hospitalized for less than a day when they died, as compared to insured children who spent a full day in the hospital prior to death. Currently, an estimated 7 million children are uninsured in the United States.

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