Insurance and racial differences in long-term acute care utilization after critical illness.
ABSTRACT To determine whether insurance coverage and race are associated with long-term acute care hospital utilization in critically ill patients requiring mechanical ventilation.
Retrospective cohort study.
Nonfederal Pennsylvania hospital discharges from 2004 to 2006.
Eligible patients were aged 18 yrs or older, of white or black race, and underwent mechanical ventilation in an intensive care unit during their hospital stay.
We used multivariable logistic regression with hospital-level random effects to determine the independent association between discharge to long-term acute care hospital, insurance status, and race after appropriate controls, including a chart-based measure of severity of illness. The primary outcome measure was discharge to long-term acute care hospital. Of 66,233 eligible patients, 84.7% were white and 15.3% were black. More white patients than black patients had commercial insurance (23.4% vs. 14.9%) compared to Medicaid (10.6% vs. 29.7%) or no insurance (1.3% vs. 2.2%). Long-term acute care hospital transfer occurred in 5.0% of patients. On multivariable analysis in patients aged younger than 65 yrs, black patients were significantly less likely to undergo long-term acute care hospital transfer (odds ratio, 0.71; p = .003), as were patients with Medicaid vs. commercial insurance (odds ratio, 0.17; p < .001). Analyzing race and insurance together and accounting for hospital-level effects, patients with Medicaid were still less likely to undergo long-term acute care hospital transfer (odds ratio, 0.18; p < .001), but race effects were no longer present (odds ratio, 1.06; p = .615). No significant race effects were seen in the Medicare-eligible population aged 65 yrs or older (odds ratio for transfer to long-term acute care hospital, 0.93; p = .359).
Differences in long-term acute care hospital utilization after critical illness appear driven by insurance status and hospital-level effects. Racial variation in long-term acute care hospital use is not seen after controlling for insurance status and is not seen in a group with uniform insurance coverage. Differential access to postacute care may be minimized by expanding commercial or Medicare insurance availability and standardizing long-term acute care admission criteria across hospitals.
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