Background: Access to health care for many pediatric orthopaedic patients is becoming more difficult. In some communities, children with fractures have limited access to care regardless of insurance status. The purpose of this study was to determine the level of difficulty in obtaining access to care for children with fractures nationally and compare our results to the published results of a national survey in 2006.
Methods: Five orthopaedic offices were identified in each state using an internet search with Google maps by typing “general orthopedics” under the search heading for each state. Each office was contacted with a scripted phone call describing a fracture in a 10-year-old boy that does not involve the growth plate. The office was then told the patient has Medicaid insurance. If no appointment was given, the reason was recorded and the office was asked to refer us to another orthopaedic surgeon. A second phone call was made to the same office a few days later using the same script but the office was told the patient has a private preferred-provider organization insurance. If no appointment was given, the reason was recorded.
Results: Of the 250 (23.6%) offices across the country, 59 would see a pediatric fracture patient with Medicaid. 41.3% (79/191) of the offices refusing the patient stated that they do not accept Medicaid patients. Of the 250, 205 (82%) of the offices across the country would see a pediatric fracture patient with a private preferred-provider organization insurance. The 10 states with lowest Medicaid reimbursement offered an appointment 6% of the time, whereas the 10 best reimbursing states offered an appointment 44% of the time.
Discussion and Conclusions: The access to care for children with fractures is becoming more difficult across the country. Compared with the published data in 2006, the number of offices willing to see a child with private insurance has decreased from 92% to 82%. The number of offices willing to see a child with a fracture and Medicaid insurance has decreased from 62% to 23% over the same time span.
Level of Evidence: Level II.