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VOLUME 45 | NUMBER 3 | JUNE 2010

Market Variations in Intensity of Medicare Service Use and Beneficiary Experiences with Care

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Objective. Examine associations between patient experiences with care and service use across markets.

Data Sources/Study Setting. Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) and managed care (Medicare Advantage [MA]) beneficiaries in 306 markets from the 2003 Consumer Assessments of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys. Resource use intensity is measured by the 2003 end-of-life expenditure index.

Study Design. We estimated correlations and linear regressions of eight measures of case-mix-adjusted beneficiary experiences with intensity of service use across markets.

Data Collection/Extraction. We merged CAHPS data with service use data, excluding beneficiaries under 65 years of age or receiving Medicaid.

Principal Findings. Overall, higher intensity use was associated (p<.05) with worse (seven measures) or no better care experiences (two measures). In higher-intensity markets, Medicare FFS and MA beneficiaries reported more problems getting care quickly and less helpful office staff. However, Medicare FFS beneficiaries in higher-intensity markets reported higher overall ratings of their personal physician and main specialist. Medicare MA beneficiaries in higher-intensity markets also reported worse quality of communication with physicians, ability to get needed care, and overall ratings of care.

Conclusions. Medicare beneficiaries in markets characterized by high service use did not report better experiences with care. This trend was strongest for those in managed care.

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