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Influence of Insurance Type on the Access to Pediatric Care for Children With Distal Radius Torus Fractures

Potak, Harrison, BS, BA*; Iobst, Christopher A., MD

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: May/June 2019 - Volume 39 - Issue 5 - p 237–240
doi: 10.1097/BPO.0000000000000929

Background: Previous literature has demonstrated that pediatric orthopaedic patients with private insurance have less difficulty obtaining appointments than those with Medicaid. Not all injuries of an orthopaedic nature, however, require specialist care. This study evaluated the willingness of pediatricians to provide care for minor orthopaedic injuries and whether or not the patient’s insurance status influenced the decision to provide care.

Methods: Ninety-nine pediatric primary care offices were randomly selected from 2 regions in Florida. Each office was contacted twice, 2 to 3 months apart, and presented with a fictionalized account of a patient that had sustained a torus (“buckle”) fracture of the distal radius. In the first call, the patient was presented as having private insurance, and in the second call as having Medicaid insurance. If the patient was denied an appointment, the reason was recorded.

Results: Of the 99 offices, 100% were willing to treat the patient’s injury if the child had private insurance, compared with 76% if the child had Medicaid. All Medicaid patient refusals were based on the insurance status of the patient. No office refused to see the patient due to the nature of the injury. Ninety-four percent of offices in South Florida were willing to see the Medicaid patient, compared with 58% in Central Florida. These differences were statistically significant (P<0.0001).

Conclusions: It was previously unknown whether pediatricians felt comfortable managing minor orthopaedic injuries. This study demonstrates that 100% of the pediatricians surveyed were willing to treat a child with a distal radius buckle fracture with proper insurance. This information potentially can provide additional avenues for patients to achieve timely access to care. However, as seen in previous studies, there was a statistically significant difference in access to care for the same child with Medicaid. Until reimbursement rates for Medicaid improve, these patients will continue to have difficulty obtaining access to care to both primary care providers and specialists.

Level of Evidence: Prospective survey study.

*University of Central Florida College of Medicine

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH

There was no external funding for this study.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Christopher Iobst, MD, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, 700 Children’s Drive, Suite A2630, Columbus, OH 43205-2696. E-mail:

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