Background: Children insured by Medicaid have higher readmission rates than privately insured children. However, little is known about whether this disparity has changed over time.
Methods: Data from the 2010 to 2017 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Readmissions Database were used to compare trends in 30-day readmission rates for children insured by Medicaid and private insurers. Patient-level crude and risk-adjusted readmission rates were compared by using Poisson regression. Hospital-level risk-adjusted readmission rates were compared between Medicaid- and privately insured patients within a hospital by using linear regression.
Results: Approximately 60% of pediatric admissions were covered by Medicaid. From 2010 to 2017, the percentage of children with a complex or chronic condition increased for both Medicaid- and privately insured patients. Readmission rates were consistently higher for Medicaid beneficiaries from 2010 to 2017. Readmission rates declined slightly for both Medicaid- and privately insured patients; however, they declined faster for privately insured patients (rate ratio: 0.988 [95% confidence interval: 0.986-0.989] vs 0.995 [95% confidence interval: 0.994-0.996], P for interaction <.001]). After adjustment, readmission rates for Medicaid- and privately insured patients declined at a similar rate (P for interaction = .87). Risk-adjusted hospital readmission rates were also consistently higher for Medicaid beneficiaries. The within-hospital difference in readmission rates for Medicaid versus privately insured patients remained stable over time (slope for difference: 0.015 [SE 0.011], P = .019).
Conclusions: Readmission rates for Medicaid- and privately insured pediatric patients declined slightly from 2010 to 2017 but remained substantially higher among Medicaid beneficiaries suggesting a persistence of the disparity by insurance status.
Copyright © 2020 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.