Friday, June 17, 2011

Study: Medicaid Kids Suffer Treatment Bias

CHICAGO- Children on Medicaid are much more likely than kids with private health insurance to be denied appointments with medical specialists, and they wait longer on average to be seen, according to a “secret shopper” study of clinics in Cook County.

Two-thirds of fictitious Medicaid patients were denied appointments compared to 11 percent of privately insured patients, researchers reported in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Research assistants posing as mothers of sick children called to make appointments for specialty care at 273 clinics one month apart. In one call, they told the clinic they had public insurance. In the other, they said they were privately insured.

In 89 clinics that accepted both types of insurance, children with public insurance also waited 22 days longer on average for an appointment with a specialist.

And in more than half of the phone calls, the caller was asked what kind of insurance their child had before an appointment could be scheduled.

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