Background An estimated 50% of children in the US are Medicaid-insured. Some of these patients have poor health literacy and limited access to medications and specialty care. These factors affect treatment utilization for pediatric patients with atopic dermatitis (AD), the most common inflammatory skin disease in children. This study assesses and compares treatment patterns and healthcare resource utilization (HCRU) between large cohorts of Medicaid and commercially insured children with AD.
Methods Pediatric patients with AD were identified from 2 large US healthcare claims databases (2011–2016). Included patients had continuous health plan eligibility for ?6?months before and??12?months after the first AD diagnosis (index date). Patients with an autoimmune disease diagnosis within 6?months of the index date were excluded. Treatment patterns and all-cause and AD-related HCRU during the observation period were compared between commercially and Medicaid-insured children.
Results A minority of children were evaluated by a dermatology or allergy/immunology specialist. Several significant differences were observed between commercially and Medicaid-insured children with AD. Disparities detected for Medicaid-insured children included: comparatively fewer received specialist care, emergency department and urgent care center utilization was higher, a greater proportion had asthma and non-atopic morbidities, high- potency topical corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors were less often prescribed, and prescriptions for antihistamines were more than three times higher, despite similar rates of comorbid asthma and allergies among antihistamine users. Treatment patterns also varied substantially across physician specialties.
Conclusions Results suggest barriers in accessing specialty care for all children with AD and significant differences in management between commercially and Medicaid-insured children. These disparities in treatment and access to specialty care may contribute to poor AD control, especially in Medicaid-insured patients.
Supplementary Information Supplementary information accompanies this paper at 10.1186/s12895-020-00114-x.