Variation in dermatologist visits by sociodemographic characteristics

Published:January 06, 2017DOI:


      Access to dermatologists is an ongoing concern for Medicaid enrollees. Understanding current use is a key step toward designing and implementing policies to improve access.


      We sought to quantify how often Medicaid enrollees visit dermatologists and receive treatment for skin-related conditions compared with patients with other coverage or without health insurance.


      We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of multiyear federal survey data (Medical Expenditure Panel Survey). The sample included Medical Expenditure Panel Survey respondents younger than 65 years from 2008 to 2012.


      In unadjusted comparisons, we found that 1.4% of Medicaid enrollees had an ambulatory visit to a dermatologist annually, compared with 1.2% of uninsured individuals and 5.5% of individuals with private coverage. In adjusted models, we found that health insurance source, age, sex, race/ethnicity, and geography are associated with the likelihood of having visits to a dermatologist. Compared with individuals with private coverage, Medicaid enrollees are less likely to receive a diagnosis for a skin condition by any provider and are less than half as likely to have skin-related diagnoses made by dermatologists.


      We have relatively few Medical Expenditure Panel Survey respondents for a subset of specific diagnoses.


      Our findings emphasize the need for efforts to reduce disparities in access to dermatologists.

      Key words

      Abbreviations used:

      CI (confidence interval), MEPS (Medical Expenditure Panel Survey), OR (odds ratio)
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