Objective: The future of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is uncertain after 2017. Survey-based research shows positive associations between CHIP expansions and children's healthcare utilization. To build on this prior work, we used electronic health record (EHR) data to assess temporal patterns of healthcare utilization after Oregon's 2009-2010 CHIP expansion. We hypothesized increased post-expansion utilization among children who gained public insurance.
Methods: Using EHR data from 154 Oregon community health centers, we conducted a retrospective cohort study of pediatric patients (2-18 years old) who gained public insurance coverage during the Oregon expansion (n = 3054), compared to those who were continuously publicly insured (n = 10,946) or continuously uninsured (n = 10,307) during the 2-year study period. We compared pre-post rates of primary care visits, well-child visits, and dental visits within- and between-groups. We also conducted longitudinal analysis of monthly visit rates, comparing the three insurance groups.
Results: After Oregon's 2009-2010 CHIP expansions, newly insured patients' utilization rates were more than double their pre-expansion rates [adjusted rate ratios (95 % confidence intervals); increases ranged from 2.10 (1.94-2.26) for primary care visits to 2.77 (2.56-2.99) for dental visits]. Utilization among the newly insured spiked shortly after coverage began, then leveled off, but remained higher than the uninsured group.
Conclusions: This study used EHR data to confirm that CHIP expansions are associated with increased utilization of essential pediatric primary and preventive care. These findings are timely to pending policy decisions that could impact children's access to public health insurance in the United States.
Keywords: CHIP; Children; Electronic health records; Health insurance; Medicaid; Utilization.