Disparities in Referral initiation and Completion at an Urban FQHC Look-alike (FQHC-LA) Clinic
Keywords:Medically Uninsured, Medicaid, Referral and Consultation, Health Equity, Primary Health Care, Continuity of Patient Care, Medicare, Community Medicine, Social Determinants of Health, Minority Health, Urban Population, Health Disparity, Minority and Vulnerable Populations, Safety-net Providers
Introduction. The purpose of this study was to determine referral initiation and completion disparities across primary care encounters at the Hope Family Care Center (HFCC) in Kansas City, MO, by payor type (primary insurance): private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and self-pay.
Methods. Data were collected and analyzed for all encounters (N = 4235) over a 15-month period including payor type, referral initiation and completion, and demographics. Referral initiation and completion were calculated by payor type and differences analyzed using Chi-square tests and t-tests. Logistic regression examined payor type association with referral initiation and completion, accounting for demographic variables.
Results. Our analysis showed a meaningful difference in rate of referral to specialists by payor type. The Medicaid encounter referral initiation rate was higher than rates for all other payor types (7.4% vs. 5.0%), and self-pay encounters' referral initiation rate was lower than rates for all other payor types (3.8% vs. 6.4%).of initiating a referral compared to private insurance encounters. There was no difference in referral completion by payor type or demographic category.
Conclusions. Equal referral completion rates across payor types suggested HFCC may have had well-established referral resources for patients. Higher referral initiation rates for Medicaid and lower for self-pay may suggest that insurance coverage offered financial confidence when seeking specialist care. Higher odds of Medicaid encounters initiating a referral could imply greater health needs among Medicaid patients.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Amanda Emerson, Dorothy Hughes, Ph.D., MHSA
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