Care Quality and Spending Among Commercially Insured Children With Disabilities



      To identify opportunities to improve care value for children with disabilities (CWD), we examined CWD prevalence within a commercially insured population and compared outpatient care quality and annual health plan spending levels for CWD relative to children with complex medical conditions without disabilities; children with chronic conditions that are not complex; and children without disabling, complex, or chronic conditions.


      This cross-sectional study comprised 1,118,081 person-years of Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts data for beneficiaries aged 1 to 19years old during 2008 to 2012. We combined the newly developed and validated Children with Disabilities Algorithm with the Pediatric Medical Complexity Algorithm to identify CWD and non-CWD subgroups. We used 14 validated or National Quality Forum–endorsed measures to assess outpatient care quality and paid claims to examine annual plan spending levels and components.


      CWD constituted 4.5% of all enrollees. Care quality for CWD was between 11% and 59% for 8 of 14 quality measures and >80% for the 6 remaining measures and was generally comparable to that for non-CWD subgroups. Annual plan spending among CWD was a median and mean 23% and 53% higher than that for children with complex medical conditions without disabilities, respectively; CWD mean and median values were higher than for all other groups as well.


      CWD were prevalent in our commercially insured population. CWD experienced suboptimal levels of care, but those levels were comparable to non-CWD groups. Improving the care value for CWD involves a deeper understanding of what higher spending delivers and additional aspects of care quality.


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