OBJECTIVES: We explored possible disparities in seasonal influenza treatment in Georgia’s disabled Medicaid population. We sought to determine whether racial/ethnic, geographic, or gender disparities existed in antiviral drugs usage in the treatment of influenza.
METHODS: Medicaid claims were analyzed from 69 556 clients with disabilities enrolled in a Georgia Medicaid disease management program.
RESULTS: There were 519 patients who met inclusion criteria (i.e., adults aged 18-64 years with an influenza diagnosis on a 2006 or 2007 Medicaid claim). Roughly one third (36.2%) of patients were classified as African American, 44.5% as White, and 19.3% as “other.” Most patients had 2 or more comorbid chronic diseases. Antivirals were used in only 14.5% of patients diagnosed with influenza. Treatment rates were nearly 3 times higher for White patients (19.5%) than for African American patients (6.9%).
CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis suggests limited use of antiviral treatment of influenza overall, as well as significant racial disparities in treatment. Additional studies are needed to further explore this finding and its implications for care of racial/ethnic minority populations during seasonal influenza and for effective pandemic influenza planning for racial/ethnic minority populations.