Increased enrollment in government-based insurance plans has been reported. With youth sports injuries on the rise, increased ordering of advanced imaging such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has occurred. This study sought to report on the impact of insurance type on access to and results of knee MRI in pediatric sports medicine patients.
A retrospective review of 178 consecutive pediatric sports medicine clinics was completed. Inclusion criteria: patients younger than 18 years, routine knee MRI ordered, sports medicine diagnosis, and insurance. Data included basic demographics, injury date, date and location (urgent care vs. clinic) of the first presentation, details of MRI ordering and approval, date and location of MRI follow-up, MRI results (negative, minor findings, major findings), and eventual treatment required.
A total of 168 charts underwent a complete review. The patients’ average age was 14±3 years and 54% (N=90) were female. Ninety-eight had government insurance and 70 had commercial insurance. The time between injury and MRI completion was significantly longer with government insurance (34 vs. 67 d, P<0.01). Government insurance had increased wait time between the first visit and MRI completion (11 vs. 40 d, P<0.001) as well as MRI order and completion (9 vs. 16.5 d, P<0.001). There was no significant difference in positive findings on MRI between insurance groups, including both major and minor findings nor in the proportion receiving eventual operative treatment.
Pediatric sports medicine patients with government insurance have delays in obtaining knee MRI, despite there being no difference in the rate of positive findings and subsequent operative treatments.
Level of Evidence:
Level III—case-control study.