How often do catastrophic injury victims become medicaid recipients?

Eduard Zaloshnja, Ted R. Miller, Jeffrey Coben, Claudia Steiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: People without adequate insurance may separate financially from their families and move onto Medicaid after a catastrophic injury. Medicaid then covers all of their medical care costs. No estimates for Medicaid conversions due to injury exist in the literature. Objectives: To estimate Medicaid conversions due to injury for people 21-64 years old. Research Design: This study analyzes the 2003 Medicaid Analytic eXtract files (the most recently available in 2009) for 14 states. For each state, we assigned a conversion cutoff date by examining the pattern of admissions after enrollment. The last day before the injury hospital admission rate decreased to its background level was considered as a cutoff date for conversions. Subjects: Medicaid enrollees aged 21 to 64 years who received coverage due to a catastrophic injury. Measures: Acute Medicaid conversions per 100 acute injury hospital admissions, estimated conversions remaining at least 1 year on Medicaid, and life-time public medical cost of disabled Medicaid recipients. Results: Around 2.55% of all hospitalized injury patients not previously covered by Medicaid enrolled to cover their hospital bills. The average disabled recipient on Medicaid (possibly combined with Medicare) for 30 years has public medical payments exceeding $345,000. Conclusions: The Medicaid postinjury enrollment policy provides important financial support to safety-net hospitals, provides better access to long-term care for trauma patients who need it, and permits states to offload costs to the federal government.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-519
Number of pages7
JournalMedical care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Cost
  • Hospital
  • Injury
  • Long-term care
  • Medicaid conversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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