¹Sam Houston State University, Department of Economics and International Business ² University of Maryland College Park, Health Services Administration
Objective: To estimate the enrollment and emergency department (ED) utilization in TexKat, the Texas Medicaid emergency waiver implemented following Hurricane Katrina. Data Sources: Individual-level enrollment and utilization data from the 2005 Medicaid Analytic Extract. Study Design: Descriptive analysis is performed on variables that describe enrollment levels, the demographic characteristics of enrollees, and the most common diagnoses in ED visits. A Poisson regression model is also employed to quantify the factors related to an enrollee’s probability of having an ED visit and the average number of ED visits. Principal Findings: There were 44,246 individuals enrolled in TexKat in 2005. Roughly 13% of these enrollees had at least one ED visit during the sample period, with one quarter of these individuals having more than one visit. Across all enrollees the most common diagnosis was "other upper respiratory infection," but there were significant differences in diagnosis patterns across racial/ethnic groups. The regression analysis suggests little difference in ED utilization across genders, but significant contrasts across racial/ethnic and age groups. Conclusions: As very little is known about Medicaid emergency waivers, our analysis may provide important information to policymakers who have to react quickly following a disaster. Our findings may help providers estimate potential increases in ED utilization and prepare for relatively common diagnoses. Furthermore, the analysis across racial/ethnic groups may help government officials identify important areas for outreach among vulnerable populations.