Health care use and expenditures associated with access to the medical home for children and youth

Med Care. 2012 Mar;50(3):262-9. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e318244d345.


Background: The pediatric medical home is an approach to the delivery of family-centered health care. Policy-makers and payers are interested in potential changes to health care utilization and expenditures under this model.

Objective: To test associations between having a medical home and health service use and expenditures among US children and youth.

Research design: Observational cross-sectional study.

Subjects: A total of 26,221 children aged 0 to 17 years surveyed in the 2005 to 2007 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys.

Measures: Parent report of a child's access to a medical home was developed from multiple survey items in the Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys. Negative binomial regression examined the association between the medical home and parent-reported counts of annual outpatient, inpatient, emergency department, and dental visits. Two-part models examined associations between the medical home and parent-reported annual total, outpatient, inpatient, emergency department, and other health care expenditures. Models accounted for potential self-selection into a medical home using propensity scores.

Results: Children with a medical home had a greater incidence of preventive visits [incidence rate ratio (IRR)=1.11; (95% confidence intervals (CI), 1.03-1.20)] and dental visits [IRR=1.09 (95% CI, 1.02-1.17)] and a lower incidence of emergency department visits [IRR=0.87 (95% CI, 0.79-0.97)] compared with children without a medical home. Children with a medical home also had greater odds of incurring total, outpatient, prescription medication, and dental expenditures, OR's ranging from 1.09 to 1.38. Despite greater odds of incurring certain expenditures, expenditures were no different for children with and without a medical home.

Conclusions: The medical home is associated with several domains of health service use, yet there is no evidence for its association with health care expenditures for children and youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics*
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Dental Care for Children / economics
  • Dental Care for Children / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / economics
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Patient-Centered Care / economics*
  • Patient-Centered Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Preventive Medicine / economics
  • Preventive Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States