Insurance status and hospital discharge disposition after trauma: inequities in access to postacute care

Greg D Sacks, Caterina Hill, Selwyn O Rogers
Journal of Trauma 2011, 71 (4): 1011-5

BACKGROUND: Postacute care is an essential component of medical care aimed at returning trauma patients to their preinjury functional status. Rehabilitation services, skilled nursing facilities, and home care all play a role in facilitating the healing process. Access to such care may be limited based on insurance status, leaving the uninsured with limited resources to reach full recovery. We hypothesized that access to specialized postacute care is less available to patients who lack health insurance.

METHODS: A retrospective cohort of trauma patients in the National Trauma Databank from 2002 to 2006 was assessed to determine whether insurance status was a predictor of discharge to a specialized postacute care facility (rehabilitation, skilled nursing facilities, and home health). Using multivariate logistic regression, we assessed the likelihood of discharge to such facilities on the basis of insurance status, controlling for patient demographics and injury severity.

RESULTS: Adjusting for variation in age, race/ethicity, gender, and injury type and severity, uninsured patients had the lowest odds of being discharged to a skilled nursing facility (odds ratio [OR], 0.76; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.73-0.80; p<0.001), home health (OR, 0.51; 95% CI 0.49-0.53; p<0.001), and rehabilitation (OR, 0.45; 95% CI 0.44-0.46; p<0.001). Uninsured patients had the highest odds, however, of being discharged directly home (OR, 1.32; 95% CI 1.30-1.34; p<0.001).

CONCLUSION: Insurance status is an important predictor of hospital disposition and access to specialized posthospital care. Uninsured patients are less likely to have access to the full range of medical care available to ensure complete recovery from traumatic injuries.

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