Large Disparities in Receipt of Glaucoma Care between Enrollees in Medicaid and Those with Commercial Health Insurance.
PURPOSE: To determine whether the type of health insurance a patient possesses and a patient's race/ethnicity affect receipt of common tests to monitor open-angle glaucoma (OAG). DESIGN: Retrospective longitudinal cohort study. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 21 766 persons aged ≥40 years with newly diagnosed OAG between 2007 and 2011 enrolled in Medicaid or a large United States managed care network. METHODS: We determined the proportion of patients with newly diagnosed OAG who underwent visual field (VF) testing, fundus photography (FP), other ocular imaging (OOI), or none of these tests within the first 15 months after initial OAG diagnosis. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the extent by which health insurance type and race/ethnicity affected the odds of undergoing glaucoma testing. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Odds ratios (OR) of undergoing VF testing, FP, OOI, or none of these tests in the 15 months after initial OAG diagnosis with 95% confidence intervals (CI). RESULTS: A total of 18 372 persons with commercial health insurance and 3394 Medicaid recipients met the study inclusion criteria. The proportions of persons with commercial health insurance with newly diagnosed OAG who underwent VF, FP, and OOI were 63%, 22%, and 54%, respectively, whereas the proportions were 35%, 19%, and 30%, respectively, for Medicaid recipients. Compared with those with commercial health insurance, Medicaid recipients were 234% more likely to not receive any glaucoma testing in the 15 months after initial diagnosis (OR = 3.34; 95% CI, 3.07-3.63). After adjustment for confounders, whites with OAG enrolled in Medicaid had 198% higher odds of receiving no glaucoma testing compared with whites possessing commercial health insurance (OR = 2.98; 95% CI, 2.66-3.33). Blacks with Medicaid insurance demonstrated 291% higher odds (OR = 3.91; 95% CI, 3.40-4.49) of not receiving any glaucoma testing compared with blacks with commercial health insurance. CONCLUSIONS: Irrespective of race/ethnicity, Medicaid recipients with OAG are receiving substantially less glaucoma testing compared with persons with commercial health insurance. Disparities in testing are observed across all races/ethnicities but were most notable for blacks. These findings are particularly disconcerting because blacks are more likely than whites to go blind from OAG and there are disproportionately more blacks in Medicaid. Efforts are needed to improve the quality of glaucoma care for Medicaid recipients, especially racial minorities.
Elam, AR; Andrews, C; Musch, DC; Lee, PP; Stein, JD
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