Insurance status is not a predictor of rotator cuff tear magnitude

Academic Article


  • Background: Rotator cuff tear (RCT) chronicity is an important factor in considering treatment options and outcomes for surgical repair. Many factors may contribute to delayed treatment, including timely access to care due to insurance status. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between the magnitude of RCT on presentation and insurance status. We hypothesize that publicly insured patients will have a greater incidence of chronic RCTs and shoulder pathology on initial presentation. Methods: Retrospective chart review of patients undergoing RCT repair at an academic tertiary care institution from 2005 to 2019. Demographic data, including age, race, sex, and insurance carrier, were collected. Insurance carriers were categorized into public (Medicare and Medicaid) or private insurance coverage. Individual magnetic resonance imagings were then reviewed by a board-certified musculoskeletal radiologist for supraspinatus (SS), infraspinatus (IS), subscapularis, and biceps tendon tears, as well as acromioclavicular arthritis. In addition, rotator cuff atrophy was evaluated by the scapular ratio. Univariate analysis of variance and logistic regression analyses were used to compare demographics and rotator cuff pathology between those with Medicaid and Medicare, as well as between publicly and privately insured patients. Results: Of the 492 patients in this study, 192 had private insurance, and 300 had public insurance (Medicaid: 50 and Medicare: 250). Insurance status was not found to be associated with differences in RCTs between Medicare and Medicaid patients. Those with Medicaid or Medicare (public), presented more frequently with SS or IS atrophy (SS atrophy, P = .002; IS atrophy, P = .039) than those with private insurance. However, after adjusting for age, no significant differences in rotator cuff tendon tear or atrophy frequencies were found between insurance groups. Conclusions: Patients with private and public insurance tend to present with similar chronicity and magnitude of RCTs. Insurance status does not appear to influence timely access to surgical care for patients with RCTs at an academic medical center.
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  • JSES International  Journal
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    Author List

  • Murali S; Elphingstone JW; Paul KD; Messner M; Frazier MB; Narducci CA; Phillips BM; Bass RZ; McGwin G; Brabston EW