The influence of insurance type on interfacility pediatric emergency department transfers☆,☆☆

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Abstract

Background

Disparities exist in the care children receive in the emergency department (ED) based on their insurance type. It is unknown if these differences exist among children transferred from outside EDs to pediatric tertiary care EDs.

Objective

To compare reasons for transfer and services received at pediatric tertiary care EDs between children with private and public insurance.

Methods

We performed a secondary analysis of a multicenter survey of ED providers transferring patients to pediatric tertiary care EDs in three major U.S. cities. Risk differences (RD) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated to compare reasons for transfer and care received at pediatric tertiary care EDs based on insurance type.

Results

There were 561 surveys completed by transferring providers describing reasons for transfer to pediatric tertiary care EDs with 52.2% of patients with private insurance and 47.8% with public insurance. We found no significant differences between privately and publicly insured children in reason for transfer for subspecialty consultation or need for admission. We found no significant differences in frequency of admission, radiologic studies, or ED procedures at the receiving facilities. However, a greater proportion of privately insured children had a subspecialty consultation at receiving facilities compared to publicly insured children (RD 9.7, 95% CI 2.0 to 17.4).

Conclusions

Transferred pediatric patients with private insurance were more likely to have subspecialty consultations than children with public insurance. Further studies are needed to better characterize the interplay between patients’ insurance type and both the request for, and the provision of, ED subspecialty consultations.

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