Increased Utilization of Total Joint Arthroplasty After Medicaid Expansion

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2021 Mar 17;103(6):524-531. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.20.00303.

Abstract

Background: The expansion of state Medicaid programs under the U.S. Affordable Care Act has led to a dramatic increase in the number of Americans with health insurance coverage. Prior analyses of a limited number of states have suggested that greater utilization of total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA) should be expected after Medicaid expansion. The purpose of our study was to examine whether increased utilization of THA and TKA occurred across a broader range of states after Medicaid expansion.

Methods: We analyzed administrative data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project from 9 states (Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, New York, and Vermont) that expanded Medicaid in 2014 and 2 states that did not expand Medicaid (Florida and Missouri). We included patients who were 18 to 64 years of age and had a primary THA or TKA from 2012 to 2015 with Medicaid as the primary payer. Other payers (including dual-eligible Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries) were excluded. We performed multivariable regression modeling with the number of Medicaid-insured THAs or TKAs as the dependent variable and the interaction between the state Medicaid expansion status and year as the main policy independent variable, with adjustment for community characteristics.

Results: Among all 11 states, there were 39,452 total joint arthroplasties (42% THA and 58% TKA) funded by Medicaid from 2012 to 2015. After adjusting for community characteristics, within expansion states, compared with 2013, THA and TKA increased 15% in 2014 (p < 0.0001) and 23% in 2015 (p < 0.0001) within expansion states. Within non-expansion states, compared with 2013, there were significant utilization decreases of 18% in 2014 (p < 0.0001) and 11% in 2015 (p = 0.0002).

Conclusions: Medicaid expansion was associated with significant increases in Medicaid-funded THA and TKA utilization in 9 states. As additional states consider expanding Medicaid programs and as alternative health reforms that increase insurance eligibility are debated, surgeons, administrators, and policymakers should prepare for a surge in the utilization of THA and TKA.