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Telemedicine Use by Age in Louisiana Medicaid During COVID-19: Claims-Based Longitudinal Analysis

HumanInsight Telemedicine Use by Age in Louisiana Medicaid During COVID-19: Claims-Based Longitudinal Analysis

J Med Internet Res. 2023 Apr 26;25:e46123. doi: 10.2196/46123.


BACKGROUND: Limited availability of in-person health care services and fear of contracting COVID-19 during the pandemic promoted an increased reliance on telemedicine. However, long-standing inequities in telemedicine due to unequal levels of digital literacy and internet connectivity among different age groups raise concerns about whether the uptake of telemedicine has exacerbated or alleviated those inequities.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to examine changes in telemedicine and in-person health service use during the COVID-19 pandemic across age groups for Medicaid beneficiaries in the state of Louisiana.

METHODS: Interrupted time series models were used on Louisiana Medicaid claims data to estimate trends in total, in-person, and telemedicine monthly office visit claims per 1000 Medicaid beneficiaries between January 2018 and December 2020. Changes in care pattern trends and levels were estimated around the infection peaks (April 2020 and July 2020) and for an end-of-year infection leveling off period (December 2020). Four mutually exclusive age categories (0 to 17, 18 to 34, 35 to 49, and 50 to 64 years) were used to compare the differences.

RESULTS: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine services accounted for less than 1% of total office visit claim volume across the age groups. Each age group followed similar patterns of sharp increases in April 2020, downward trends until sharp increases again in July 2020, followed by flat trends thereafter until December 2020. These sharp increases were most pronounced for older patients, with those aged 50 to 64 years seeing increases of 184.09 telemedicine claims per 1000 Medicaid beneficiaries in April 2020 (95% CI 172.19 to 195.99) and 120.81 in July 2020 (95% CI 101.32 to 140.31) compared with those aged 18 to 34 years, seeing increases of 84.47 (95% CI 78.64 to 90.31) and 57.00 (95% CI 48.21 to 65.79), respectively. This resulted in overall changes from baseline to December 2020 levels of 123.65 (95% CI 112.79 to 134.51) for those aged 50 to 64 years compared with 59.07 (95% CI 53.89 to 64.24) for those aged 18 to 34 years.

CONCLUSIONS: Older Medicaid beneficiaries in Louisiana had higher rates of telemedicine claim volume during the COVID-19 pandemic compared with younger beneficiaries.

PMID:37099371 | DOI:10.2196/46123

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