Black-White Disparities in Asthma Hospitalizations and ED Visits Among Medicaid-Enrolled Children

Hosp Pediatr. 2024 Jun 1;14(6):490-498. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2023-007477.


Background and objectives: Asthma is a common, potentially serious childhood chronic condition that disproportionately afflicts Black children. Hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits for asthma can often be prevented. Nearly half of children with asthma are covered by Medicaid, which should facilitate access to care to manage and treat symptoms. We provide new evidence on racial disparities in asthma hospitalizations and ED visits among Medicaid-enrolled children.

Methods: We used comprehensive Medicaid claims data from the Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System. Our study population included 279 985 Medicaid-enrolled children with diagnosed asthma. We identified asthma hospitalizations and ED visits occurring in 2019. We estimated differences in the odds of asthma hospitalizations and ED visits for non-Hispanic Black versus non-Hispanic white children, adjusting for sex, age, Medicaid eligibility group, Medicaid plan type, state, and rurality.

Results: In 2019, among Black children with asthma, 1.2% had an asthma hospitalization and 8.0% had an asthma ED visit compared with 0.5% and 3.4% of white children with a hospitalization and ED visit, respectively. After adjusting for other characteristics, the rates for Black children were more than twice the rates for white children (hospitalization adjusted odds ratio 2.45, 95% confidence interval 2.23-2.69; ED adjusted odds ratio 2.42; 95% confidence interval 2.33-2.51).

Conclusions: There are stark racial disparities in asthma hospitalizations and ED visits among Medicaid-enrolled children with asthma. To diminish these disparities, it will be important to implement solutions that address poor quality care, discriminatory treatment in health care settings, and the structural factors that disproportionately expose Black children to asthma triggers and access barriers.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma* / ethnology
  • Asthma* / therapy
  • Black or African American* / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities* / ethnology
  • Healthcare Disparities* / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitalization* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Medicaid* / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People* / statistics & numerical data