The Effect of Insurance Type on Fragility Fracture Patient Access to Endocrinology Under the Affordable Care Act

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To assess the effect of insurance type (Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance) on fragility fracture patients’ access to endocrinology specialists in the postoperative period.

Materials and Methods:

The research team called 247 board-certified endocrinologists in 8 representative states. The caller requested an appointment for her fictitious mother to be evaluated for osteoporosis after suffering a hip fracture that required surgery. The caller stated that her mother had an abnormal level of parathyroid hormone and her mother’s orthopedic surgeon believed she needed to see an endocrinologist. Each office was called 3 times to assess the responses for each insurance type. For each call, we documented whether the patient was able to receive an appointment and the barriers the patient confronted to receiving an appointment.


About 15.8% of offices scheduled an appointment for a patient with Medicaid, compared to 48.6% for Medicare and 54.3% for BlueCross (P < .0001). Medicaid patients confronted more barriers to receiving appointments. There was no statistically significant difference in access for Medicaid patients in states that had expanded Medicaid versus states that had not expanded Medicaid. Medicaid reimbursement for a new level 3 patient visit did not significantly correlate with appointment success rates or wait times.


Despite the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid patients have reduced access to endocrinologists and more complex barriers to receiving appointments. A more robust strategy for increasing access to care for Medicaid patients would be more equitable.

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