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J Hand Surg Am. 2014 Mar;39(3):527-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2013.10.031.

The influence of patient insurance status on access to outpatient orthopedic care for flexor tendon lacerations.

Author information

1
Department of Orthopaedics, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC.
2
Department of Orthopaedics, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC. Electronic address: megan_patterson@med.unc.edu.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To determine the effect of patient insurance status on access to outpatient orthopedic care for acute flexor tendon lacerations.

METHODS:

The research team contacted 100 randomly chosen orthopedic surgery practices in North Carolina by phone on 2 different occasions separated by 3 weeks. The research team attempted to obtain an appointment for a fictitious 28-year-old man with an acute flexor tendon laceration. Insurance status was presented as Medicaid in 1 call and private insurance in the other call. Ability of an office to schedule an appointment was recorded.

RESULTS:

Of the 100 practices, 13 were excluded because they did not perform hand surgery, which left 87 practices. The patient in the scenario with Medicaid was offered an appointment significantly less often (67%) than the patient in the scenario with private insurance (82%). The odds of the patient with private insurance obtaining an appointment were 2.2 times greater than the odds of the Medicaid patient obtaining an appointment. The Medicaid patient was more likely not to be offered an appointment owing to the lack of a hand surgeon at a practice (28% of appointment denials) than privately insured patients (13% of appointment denials).

CONCLUSIONS:

For patients with acute flexor tendon lacerations, insurance status has an important role in the ability to obtain an orthopedic clinic appointment. We found that patients with Medicaid have more barriers to accessing care for a flexor tendon laceration than patients with private insurance.

TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Prognostic II.

KEYWORDS:

Access to care; Medicaid; Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; flexor tendon laceration; insurance

PMID:
24559630
DOI:
10.1016/j.jhsa.2013.10.031
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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