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Keywords:

  • access to care;
  • health care disparities;
  • pediatric preventive care;
  • poverty;
  • rural health

Abstract

Objective: The objective of this study was to assess health care utilization patterns for young children with Medicaid insurance in the rural counties of the I-95 corridor in South Carolina relative to other regions of the state. We hypothesize that young children received less well care and higher levels of tertiary care in the rural counties along the I-95 corridor (I-95) of South Carolina.

Design/Methods: A Medicaid cohort of children less than 3 years of age was used to compare Early, Periodic, Diagnosis, Screening and Treatment (EPSDT) visits; preventable emergency department (ED) visits; and inpatient visits between I-95, other rural and urban county groupings.

Results: The adjusted odds of a child having had 80% of the recommended EPSDT visits were reduced for I-95 compared to other rural counties. The odds of a preventable inpatient or ED visit were increased for all rural counties, with the highest rates in the other rural counties.

Conclusions: Children accessed well care less in the I-95 corridor compared to other rural areas of South Carolina. Rural children accessed tertiary care more often than urban children, a finding most prominent outside the I-95 corridor, likely attributable to more available access of tertiary care in rural counties outside the I-95 corridor.