Background and Purpose
Controversy exists whether surgical treatment is influenced by insurance status. American studies suggest higher morbidity and decreased survival in uninsured patients with colorectal cancer (CRC). It remains elusive, however, whether these findings apply to European countries with mandatory, government-driven insurance systems. We aimed to analyze whether operative techniques, quality of surgery, and complication rates differ among patients covered by statutory (SI) versus private (PI) healthcare insurance.
Based on a prospective national surgical quality database, patients undergoing elective resection for CRC during 2007–2015 were identified. A propensity score match of eligible patients with SI and PI yielded 765 patients per group.
Hierarchical status of the operating surgeon differed substantially (p = 0.001): junior surgeons operated on > 50% of patients with SI, whereas over 80% of patients with PI were operated by senior surgeons. Minimally invasive techniques were used more frequently in patients with PI (p = 0.001) and patients with SI undergoing colonic resection showed an increased conversion rate (OR 2.44). Median duration of surgery (p = 0.001) and blood loss (p = 0.002) were higher in patients with SI; however, length of hospital stay was equal. Neither the rate of positive resection margins nor the number of resected lymph nodes differed among groups. Complications and mortality occurred with similar frequencies for patients undergoing colon (p = 0.140) and rectal (p = 0.335) resection.