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How Do the Experiences of Medicare Beneficiary Subgroups Differ between Managed Care and Original Medicare?

Keywords: Managed care; vulnerable populations; patient experience; Medicare; CAHPS

Objective. To examine whether disparities in health care experiences of Medicare beneficiaries differ between managed care (Medicare Advantage [MA]) and traditional fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare.

Data Sources. 132,937 MA and 201,444 FFS respondents to the 2007 Medicare Consumer Assessment of Health Care Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey.

Study Design. We defined seven subgroup characteristics: low-income subsidy eligible, no high school degree, poor or fair self-rated health, age 85 and older, female, Hispanic, and black. We estimated disparities in CAHPS experience of care scores between each of these groups and beneficiaries without those characteristics within MA and FFS for 11 CAHPS measures and assessed differences between MA and FFS disparities in linear models.

Principal Findings. The seven subgroup characteristics had significant (p<.05) negative interactions with MA (larger disparities in MA) in 27 of 77 instances, with only four significant positive interactions.

Conclusion. Managed care may provide less uniform care than FFS for patients; specifically there may be larger disparities in MA than FFS between beneficiaries who have low incomes, are less healthy, older, female, and who did not complete high school, compared with their counterparts. There may be potential for MA quality improvement targeted at the care provided to particular subgroups.

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