Background: The benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for trauma patients have been well established. However, the ACA's impact on penetrating trauma patients (PTPs), a population that is historically young and uninsured, has not been defined. We hypothesized that PTPs in the post-ACA era would have better outcomes. Material and methods: The National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB) was queried for all PTPs from 2009 (pre-ACA) and 2011-2014 (post-ACA). Subset analysis was performed in patients aged 19-25 y, as this group was eligible for the ACA's dependent care provision (DCP). Results: There were 9,714,471 patients in the study, with 2,053,501 (21.1%) pre-ACA and 7,660,970 (78.9%) post-ACA. When compared to pre-ACA, patients in the post-ACA cohort were more likely to have commercial/private insurance, less likely to have Medicaid, and more likely to be uninsured. On logistic regression, the pre-ACA era was associated with mortality (HR: 1.02, 95% CI: 1.01-1.04, P = 0.004). Being uninsured was associated with mortality (HR: 1.89, 95% CI: 1.87-1.92, P < 0.001). On subset analysis of the DCP age group, post-ACA patients were more likely to be uninsured (24.1% versus 17.6%; P < 0.001). In addition, for the DCP age group, pre-ACA era was not associated with mortality (HR: 1.03, 95% CI: 0.99-1.06, P = 0.20). Conclusions: Although the ACA provided a survival benefit to PTPs overall, it did not increase insurance coverage for this population. In addition, the DCP of the ACA did not improve insurance access for PTP in the eligible age group. Further efforts are needed to extend insurance access to this population.
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