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Hospital Utilization by Fee-for-Service and Medicare Advantage Enrollees

Slide Presentation from the AHRQ 2009 Conference

On September 15, 2009, Lauren Nicholas made this presentation at the 2009 Annual Conference.

Select to access the PowerPoint® presentation (407 KB).

Slide 1


Hospital Utilization by Fee-for-Service and Medicare Advantage Enrollees

Lauren Hersch Nicholas
University of Michigan
September 15, 2009


Slide 2



  • Ongoing policy interest in expanding Medicare benefits while reducing spending
  • Medicare Advantage plans provide a voluntary, managed care alternative to Fee-for-Service
  • Payments to plans now exceed average FFS spending
  • Little is known about quality or cost implications of increasing enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans


Slide 3


Research Questions

  • Does managed care affect hospital utilization for Medicare beneficiaries?
    • Quality of outpatient care: Ambulatory Care Sensitive Admissions
    • Access to elective procedures: Referral-Sensitive Admissions
  • Does managed care enrollment affect total Medicare spending?


Slide 4



  • Existing quality and utilization literature indicates quality problems in early Medicare managed care plans
  • Yet managed care consistently better at preventive service use
  • Cost spillovers from managed care believed to hold down FFS spending, but higher payments to plans raise total spending
  • Managed care plans historically attract healthier enrollees
  • Findings mostly from 1990s, don't identify casual effects


Slide 5


State Inpatient Database

  • Discharge abstracts from hospitalizations in AZ, FL, NJ, and NY
    • 20% of Medicare beneficiaries and 25% of Medicare Advantage enrollees live in one of these 4 states
  • All in-state hospitalizations from 1990-2005
  • Include Medicare Advantage and Fee-for-Service beneficiaries
  • ICD-9 diagnostics and procedure codes used to identify ambulatory care sensitive (AHRQ Prevention Quality Indicators) and referral-sensitive admissions
  • Marker hospitalizations, which are not affected by medical care, provide comparison group
  • Medicare enrollment date ? demographic information for all beneficiaries


Slide 6


Ambulatory Care Sensitive Admissions

  • Potentially avoided with effective primary care
Hospitalizations per 1,000 MMC1 FFS
Dehydration 2.45 4.65
Pneumonia 7.47 13.58
Reptured Appendix 0.2 0.27
Urinary Tract Infection 3.15 5.69
Angina 0.9 1.24
Asthma 1.32 2.15
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 5.63 8.21
Congestive Heart Failure 12.51 19.5
Diabetes Short-term 0.28 0.39
Diabetes Long-term 2.27 3.25
Diabetes Uncontrolled 0.34 0.53
Diabetes Amputation 0.70 1
Hypertension 0.93 1.2


Slide 7


Referral-Sensitive Admissions

  • Technology-intensive procedures, require referral
  • Low rates of procedures may suggest barriers to service use
Hospitalizations per 1,000 MMC FFS
Angioplasty 6.09 7.60
Coronary Artery Bypass 3.02 3.21
Elective Joint Replacement 5.42 8.16
Pacemaker Insertion 1.8 2.61


Slide 8


Marker Admissions

  • Hospitalizations which are unrelated to recent medical care, reflect underlying health status, private information influencing insurance choice and utilization
Hospitalizations per 1,000 MMC FFS
Appendicitis 0.26 0.34
Gastrointestinal Obstruction 2.38 3.81
Hip Fracture 3.95 6.53


Slide 9


Unadjusted Rates of Hospitalization for Medicare Advantage and Fee-for-Service Enrollees

Rate per 1,000

  • ACS
    • Managed Care: 37.6
    • Fee for services: 60.9
  • Referral Hospitalization Type
    • Managed Care: 16.3
    • Fee for services: 21.6
  • Marker
    • Managed Care: 6.6
    • Fee for services: 10.7


Slide 10


Medicare Advantage and Fee-for-Service Enrollees are Demographically Similar

Variable MMC FFS
Black 11% 9%
Hispanic 4% 4%
Other Race 3% 4%
Female 58% 58%
Medicaid 8% 14%
Age 75.0 75.1
N 27,117,977 89,671,934

Source: Medicare Denominator File, 1999-2005


Slide 11


What explains differences in hospital utilization?

  • Medicare Advantage plans attract healthier enrollees, otherwise provide the same care as Fee-for-Service
  • Medicare Advantage plans manage care to limit utilization, ? reduce elective procedure use
  • Medicare Advantage plans manage care to preserve beneficiary health, ? reduce potentially preventable admissions


Slide 12


Empirical Approach

  • Insurance Type-Country-Year level regressions of rate of hospitalization on Medicare coverage type and demographics
  • County and Year fixed effects
  • Two-stage estimation procedure using ratio of observed to expected marker hospitalizations to control for unobserved health status differences
  • Pairs-Cluster Bootstrap used to calculate standard errors


Slide 13


Effect of Managed Care on Rates of Hospitalization (1)

Difference in Rates of hospitalization per 1,000 Enrollees

  ACS Acute ACS Chronic ACS Referral
MMC -12.54***

Cluster robust standard errors in parentheses
* p < 0.10
** p < 0.05
*** p < 0.01


Slide 14


Effect of Managed Care on Rates of Hospitalization (2)

  • Managed care significantly reduces potentially preventable hospitalizations
    • Acute reductions primarily from Pneumonia and Urinary Tract Infection? Earlier access to antibiotics?
  • No overall managed care effect for referral-sensitive hospitalizations, but significant reduction in elective joint replacement (3.5 per 1,000 enrollees) and pacemaker insertion (0.9 per 1,000)
  • Positive selection into Medicare Advantage plans accounts for between 25 and 35 percent of risk-adjusted differences


Slide 15


Trends in Ambulatory Care Sensitive Admissions in Medicare Advantage and Fee-for-Service

A chart showing the trends in Ambulatory Care Sensitive Admissions in Medicare Advantage and Fee-for-Service is shown.


Slide 16


Medicare Advantage and Medicare Spending

  • Nationally, 1% increase in Medicare Advantage enrollment increases average Medicare spending between 0.3 and 1.1%
  • Is extra spending on managed care cost-effective way to reduce ACS admissions?
  • Increasing plan payment rates by $600 per enrollee per year would reduce ACS admissions rate by 1 per 1,000


Slide 17


Conclusions and Policy Implications

  • Medicare Advantage plans have lower rates of ambulatory care sensitive admissions
  • No overall difference in referral-sensitive admissions
  • Both positive selection and true "managed care effect" explain observed differences in utilization
  • Higher payments to plans concentrate enrollment on healthier enrollees, hospitalizations primarily reduced by low-cost interventions
  • Potential to reduce total spending by improving access to acute care in FFS?
Current as of December 2009
Internet Citation: Hospital Utilization by Fee-for-Service and Medicare Advantage Enrollees: Slide Presentation from the AHRQ 2009 Conference. December 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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