These authors note that low socioeconomic status and Medicaid insurance as a primary payer have been associated with major disparities in resource utilization and risk-adjusted outcomes for patients undergoing totaljoint arthroplasty.
Using the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample database they identified patients who were treated for proximal humeral fractures (PHFs) from 2002 to 2012.
In an effort to minimize confounding variables, each Medicaid patient was matched to a privately insured patient on the basis of gender, race, year of procedure, and age (but notably not to fracture type or type of treatment):
Of the 678,831 patients treated with PHF, 4.9% (33,263) had Medicaid as the primary payer during the 10-year period. Medicaid patients were found to have a significantly higher risk (P < .05) of postoperative in-hospital complications, including postoperative infection (odds ratio [OR], 2.00 [1.37-2.93]), wound complications (OR, 1.69 [1.04-2.75]), and acute respiratory distress syndrome (OR, 1.34 [1.15-1.59]).
They concluded that Medicaid patients have a significantly higher risk for certain postoperative hospital complications and consume more resources after treatment for PHFs.
Comment: It is apparent that our health care system is on the cusp of change with the new administration. Under most any system, however, the observation that Medicaid insurance (which provides relatively low reimbursement) can be a risk factor for an increased rate of complications and for increased per-case expense will continue to create an ethical, social and economic challenge for the providers. This is especially the case if there are penalties for the increased readmission rates that are likely to be necessary to manage the increased rate of complications. Our hope is that broad-based discussion will lead to a well-informed approach so that our patients can get the care they need.
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