Torn Meniscus Surgery Rate Varies by Insurance Status

More likely in private insurance group than self-pay group; most common in Workers' Comp group

MONDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- People who pay their own medical costs are less likely to undergo elective surgery to repair a torn meniscus than those with private or government-issued health insurance, according to research published in the Oct. 20 issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Kenneth R. Gundle, M.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues reviewed the records of 1,127 patients diagnosed with a meniscal tear to study the effect of insurance status on surgical treatment.

The researchers found that 446 (40 percent) of the patients had surgery within six months of an office visit, and that insured and uninsured patients underwent surgery at a similar rate. There were, however, notable differences among insurance status subgroups. Those classified as self-pay had a lower rate of surgery than those covered by private insurance (odds ratio, 0.33), while patients with Workers' Compensation or Medicaid had surgery at a higher rate than those with private insurance (odds ratios, 1.93 and 1.63, respectively).

"The rate of elective arthroscopic knee surgery for meniscal tears varied significantly for some insurance categories at this single academic institution in Massachusetts. Further work is necessary to clarify the patient and surgeon factors influencing these disparities in clinical decision-making," the authors write.

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