Racial disparities in receipt of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) persist in the United States and have been shown to also be associated with a number of driving factors, including insurance status. However, little is known as to how expanding insurance coverage across a population influences disparities in surgical care.
To evaluate the impact of Massachusetts health care reform on racial disparities in MIS.
Design, Setting, and Participants
A retrospective cohort study assessed the probability of undergoing MIS vs an open operation for nonwhite patients in Massachusetts compared with 6 control states. All discharges (n = 167 560) of nonelderly white, black, or Latino patients with government insurance (Medicaid or Commonwealth Care insurance) or no insurance who underwent a procedure for acute appendicitis or acute cholecystitis at inpatient hospitals between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2009, were assessed. Data are from the Hospital Cost and Utilization Project State Inpatient Databases.
The 2006 Massachusetts health care reform, which expanded insurance coverage for government-subsidized, self-pay, and uninsured individuals in Massachusetts.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Adjusted probability of undergoing MIS and difference-in-difference estimates.
Prior to the 2006 reform, Massachusetts nonwhite patients had a 5.21–percentage point lower probability of MIS relative to white patients (P < .001). Nonwhite patients in control states had a 1.39–percentage point lower probability of MIS (P = .007). After reform, nonwhite patients in Massachusetts had a 3.71–percentage point increase in the probability of MIS relative to concurrent trends in control states (P = .01). After 2006, measured racial disparities in MIS resolved in Massachusetts, with nonwhite patients having equal probability of MIS relative to white patients (0.06 percentage point greater; P = .96). However, nonwhite patients in control states without health care reform have a persistently lower probability of MIS relative to white patients (3.19 percentage points lower; P < .001).
Conclusions and Relevance
The 2006 Massachusetts insurance expansion was associated with an increased probability of nonwhite patients undergoing MIS and resolution of measured racial disparities in MIS.