Medicare Advantage Shown to Have Significant Racial Disparities

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There were more racial disparity, versus traditional Medicare, for hospital readmissions for 6 major surgeries.
There were more racial disparity, versus traditional Medicare, for hospital readmissions for 6 major surgeries.

HealthDay News -- According to a study published in Health Affairs, Medicare Advantage is associated with more racial disparity than traditional Medicare for hospital readmissions.

Yue Li, PhD, from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, and colleagues compared racial disparities in 30-day readmission between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. 

Participants underwent 1 of 6 major surgeries (isolated coronary artery bypass graft, pulmonary lobectomy, endovascular repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm, open repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm, colectomy, and hip replacement) in New York State in 2013.

The researchers observed greater racial disparity with Medicare Advantage versus traditional Medicare. In a propensity-score based approach, after controlling for patient, hospital, and geographic characteristics, black patients were 33 and 64% more likely than white patients to be readmitted with traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage, respectively.

"Our findings suggest that the risk-reduction strategies adopted by Medicare Advantage plans have not been successful in lowering the markedly higher rate of readmission among black patients, compared to white patients," the authors write.

Reference

Li Y, et al. "Medicare Advantage Associated With More Racial Disparity Than Traditional Medicare For Hospital Readmissions." Health Affairs. 2017;36(7): 1328-1335. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.1344

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