Reliance on acute care settings for health care utilization: A comparison of adolescents with younger children

Monika K. Goyal*, Troy Richardson, Abbey Masonbrink, Jennifer L. Reed, Elizabeth R. Alpern, Matt Hall, Mark I. Neuman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Because a goal of the Affordable Care Act was to increase preventive care and reduce high-cost care, the objective of this study was to evaluate current health care use and reliance on acute care settings among Medicaid-enrolled children. Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of the 2015 Truven MarketscanMedicaid claims database among children 0 to 21 years old with at least 11 months of continuous enrollment. We calculated adjusted probabilities of health care use (any health care use and ≥1 health maintenance visit) and high acute care reliance (ratio of emergency department or urgent care visits to all health care visits >0.33) by age and compared use between adolescents and younger children using multivariable logistic regression. Results: Of the 5,182,540 Medicaid-enrolled children, 18.9% had no health care visits and 47.3% had 1 or more health maintenance visit in 2015. Both health care use and health maintenance visits decreased with increasing age (P < 0.001). Compared with younger children (0-10 years old), adolescents were more likely to have no interaction with the health care system [adjusted odds ratio (aOR), 2.20; 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.19-2.21] and less likely to have health maintenance visits (aOR, 0.40; 0.39-0.40). High acute care reliance was associated with increasing age, with adolescents having greater odds of high acute care reliance (aOR, 1.08; 1.08-1.09). Conclusions: Medicaid-enrolled adolescents have low rates of health care use and have high reliance on acute care settings. Further investigation into adolescent-specific barriers to health maintenance care and drivers for acute care is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1128-E1132
JournalPediatric emergency care
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Acute care reliance
  • Adolescents
  • Health maintenance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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