To assess the number of days that children experienced a health care encounter and associations between chronic condition types and health care encounters.
Retrospective analysis of data from 5,082,231 children ages 0 to 18 years enrolled in Medicaid during 2017 in 12 US states contained in the IBM Watson Marketscan Medicaid Database. We counted and categorized enrollees’ encounter days, defined as unique days a child had a health care visit, by type of health service. We used International Classification of Disease-10 diagnosis code categories from Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Chronic Condition Indicator System to identify chronic mental and physical health conditions.
Median (interquartile range [IQR]) annual encounter days was 6 (2–13). Children in the 91st to 98th and ≥99th percentiles for encounter days experienced a median of 49 (IQR 38–70) and 229 (IQR 181, 309) days, respectively; these children accounted for 52.6% of days for the cohort. As encounter days increased from the 25th to >90th percentile, the percentage of children with co-existing mental and physical health conditions increased from <0.1% to 47.4% (P < .001). Outpatient visits accounted for a total of 68.3% and 62.2% of days for children the 91st to 98th and ≥99th percentiles.
Ten percent of children enrolled in Medicaid averaged health care encounters at least 1 day per week; 1% experienced health care encounters on most weekdays. Further investigation is needed to understand how families perceive frequent health care encounters, including how to facilitate their children's care in the most feasible way.
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Published online: July 17, 2022
Accepted: July 7, 2022
Received: February 28, 2022
The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
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