HumanInsight Disparities in Telemedicine Use Among Louisiana Medicaid Beneficiaries During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Med Care. 2023 Apr 1;61(Suppl 1):S70-S76. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000001795. Epub 2023 Mar 9.
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic led to an increased reliance on telemedicine. Whether this exacerbated existing disparities within vulnerable populations is not yet known.
OBJECTIVES: Characterize changes in outpatient telemedicine evaluation and management (E&M) services for Louisiana Medicaid beneficiaries by race, ethnicity, and rurality during the COVID-19 pandemic.
RESEARCH DESIGN: Interrupted time series regression models estimated pre-COVID-19 trends and changes in E&M service use at the April and July 2020 peaks in COVID-19 infections in Louisiana and in December 2020 after those peaks had subsided.
SUBJECTS: Louisiana Medicaid beneficiaries continuously enrolled between January 2018 and December 2020 who were not also enrolled in Medicare.
MEASURES: Monthly outpatient E&M claims per 1000 beneficiaries.
RESULTS: Prepandemic differences in service use between non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black beneficiaries narrowed by 34% through December 2020 (95% CI: 17.6%-50.6%), while differences between non-Hispanic White and Hispanic beneficiaries increased by 10.5% (95% CI: 0.1%-20.7%). Non-Hispanic White beneficiaries used telemedicine at higher rates than non-Hispanic Black (difference=24.9 claims per 1000 beneficiaries, 95% CI: 22.3-27.4) and Hispanic beneficiaries (difference=42.3 claims per 1000 beneficiaries, 95% CI: 39.1-45.5) during the first wave of COVID-19 infections in Louisiana. Telemedicine use increased slightly for rural beneficiaries compared with urban beneficiaries (difference=5.3 claims per 1000 beneficiaries, 95% CI: 4.0-6.6).
CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic narrowed gaps in outpatient E&M service use between non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black Louisiana Medicaid beneficiaries, though gaps in telemedicine use emerged. Hispanic beneficiaries experienced large reductions in service use and relatively small increases in telemedicine use.
PMID:36893421 | DOI:10.1097/MLR.0000000000001795
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