Anecdotal evidence suggests that children's access to pediatric subspecialty and inpatient care is hampered by referral barriers imposed by managed care systems. To identify such barriers and determine how they affect the referral process, a sample of American Academy of Pediatrics Fellows (n = 1598) was surveyed. The response rate was 79.1% (n = 1264). Of those pediatricians in direct patient care (n = 956), 71.4% participated in a managed care plan. Pediatricians referred patients in managed care systems somewhat less frequently than in traditional pay systems: 8.7% and 6.9% referred managed care patients to subspecialists and inpatient care, respectively, less often. More than 20% and 10% of pediatricians with patients in managed care systems had at least one referral to subspecialist care and inpatient care, respectively, denied in the previous year. Pediatricians experienced more barriers in preferred provider organizations than in health maintenance organizations. These data suggest that utilization management programs, such as those used in managed care systems, may limit necessary access to pediatric subspecialty and inpatient care.
- Received October 22, 1990.
- Accepted March 5, 1991.
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics