Disparities in Health Measures By Race and Ethnicity Among Beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage: A Review of the Literature


Throughout the previous decade, Medicare Merit enrollment has greater ceaselessly, with specifically speedy enlargement amongst folks of colour. These days, simply over half of all eligible Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Merit plans, with larger enrollment charges amongst Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander beneficiaries than amongst White beneficiaries. As of 2021, 59% of Black Medicare beneficiaries, 67% of Hispanic beneficiaries, and 55% of Asian and Pacific Islander beneficiaries have been enrolled in a Medicare Merit plan as in comparison with 43% of White beneficiaries.

Regardless of the slightly excessive Medicare Merit enrollment charges amongst folks of colour relative to White beneficiaries, little is understood about whether or not there are racial and ethnic disparities in high quality of care and well being care stories amongst Medicare Merit enrollees.

A previous KFF review of 62 research in comparison Medicare Merit and conventional Medicare on measures of beneficiary revel in and high quality of care. The prior overview recognized slightly few research that tested variations amongst beneficiaries by way of race and ethnicity between Medicare Merit and conventional Medicare, making it tricky to match the stories of folks of colour around the two resources of Medicare protection.

This overview examines variations in measures of high quality of care and beneficiary revel in between folks of colour in Medicare Merit plans and White Medicare Merit enrollees or the whole Medicare Merit inhabitants. The research synthesizes findings from 20 recognized research that have been revealed all through the 5-year duration between January 2018 and April 2023. Those 20 research jointly record on 46 other measures of high quality of care and beneficiary revel in, however no longer all research tested all teams or incorporated all measures. All variations described on this record are statistically vital except famous differently (e.g., for effects which can be reported as equivalent). Many of the research (17 of 20) managed for variations in enrollee well being standing and different demographic traits in some style. (See Methods for more information concerning the standards used to choose research, Appendix Desk 1 for an entire checklist of measures incorporated in those research, and Appendix Desk 2 for extra an in depth description of every learn about.)

Whilst the scope of this overview is restricted to Medicare Merit enrollees, the racial and ethnic disparities in high quality of care and beneficiary described on this record reflect disparities in well being and well being care in traditional Medicare, the overall Medicare population, and extra extensively, the U.S adult population.

Key Takeaways

Black enrollees: Effects are much less favorable for Black Medicare Merit enrollees than White Medicare Merit enrollees on greater than part (24) of the 46 measures tested for this team in 19 research. Effects have been extra favorable on 8 measures, equivalent on 5 measures, inconsistent throughout research on two measures, and for seven measures, learn about authors described variations as no longer nearly vital. As an example:

  • Preventive provider use: the next proportion of Black Medicare Merit enrollees than White enrollees gained breast most cancers screenings, colorectal most cancers screenings, and pap smears, however a decrease proportion of Black enrollees gained prostate most cancers screenings and flu vaccines.
  • Hospitalizations: the next proportion of Black than White Medicare Merit enrollees have been admitted to the medical institution for an ambulatory care delicate situation – a measure of probably preventable hospitalizations – and the next proportion of Black than White enrollees have been readmitted to the medical institution inside 30 days.
  • Psychological well being: a decrease proportion of Black than White enrollees with melancholy have been handled with antidepressant drugs and remained at the drugs for no less than 12 weeks.
  • Stories with care: a decrease proportion of Black than White Medicare Merit enrollees reported seeing a expert up to now yr, however equivalent stocks of Black and White enrollees reported having well-coordinated care and getting wanted pharmaceuticals.
  • Plan scores: a decrease proportion of Black than White enrollees have been enrolled in higher-rated Medicare Merit plans.

Hispanic enrollees: Findings are much less favorable for Hispanic than White Medicare Merit enrollees on greater than a 3rd (16) of the 42 measures tested for this team in 17 research. Findings have been extra favorable on 8 measures, equivalent on 5 measures, inconsistent throughout research on 3 measures, and for 10 measures, learn about authors described variations as no longer nearly vital. As an example:

  • Preventive provider use: the next proportion of Hispanic than White Medicare Merit enrollees reported getting screenings for breast most cancers, however a decrease proportion gained flu vaccines.
  • Illness control: a decrease proportion of Hispanic than White Medicare Merit enrollees gained follow-up care after emergency division visits for positive prerequisites, reminiscent of for psychological well being and a suite of a couple of high-risk persistent prerequisites.
  • Stories with care: a decrease proportion of Hispanic than White Medicare Merit enrollees reported getting appointments and care briefly.
  • Hospitalizations: Hispanic and White enrollees had equivalent charges of medical institution readmissions and hospitalizations for ambulatory care delicate prerequisites.
  • Plan scores: A decrease proportion of Hispanic than White enrollees have been enrolled in higher-rated Medicare Merit plans.

Asian and Pacific Islander enrollees: Findings are much less favorable for Asian and Pacific Islander enrollees than White enrollees on 9 of the 36 measures in 13 research. Findings have been extra favorable on seven measures, equivalent on seven measures, inconsistent throughout research on 3 measures, and for 10 measures, learn about authors described variations as no longer nearly vital. As an example:

  • Preventive services and products: the next proportion of Asian and Pacific Islander than White enrollees gained a flu vaccine, whilst equivalent stocks gained colorectal most cancers screenings.
  • Illness control: the next proportion of Asian and Pacific Islander enrollees than White enrollees gained statin treatment as a part of their diabetes care, however a decrease proportion of Asian and Pacific Islander enrollees with a brand new episode of alcohol or different drug dependence initiated remedy for alcohol or different drug dependence.
  • Hospitalizations: Asian and Pacific Islander and White enrollees had equivalent charges of hospitalizations for ambulatory care delicate prerequisites.

American Indian and Alaska Local enrollees: Lower than part of the research recognized on this overview (9 of 20 research) offered findings for American Indian and Alaska Local Medicare Merit enrollees, and jointly, they incorporated fewer measures (25) than research of Black (46), Hispanic (42) or Asian and Pacific Islander (36) Medicare Merit enrollees. Findings have been much less favorable for American Indian and Alaska Local enrollees that White Medicare Merit enrollees on seven measures, extra favorable on 4 measures, equivalent on 12 measures, inconsistent throughout research on one measure, and for one measure, learn about authors described variations as no longer nearly vital. As an example:

  • Preventive services and products: the next proportion of American Indian and Alaska Local enrollees than White enrollees gained breast most cancers screenings, and equivalent stocks gained a flu vaccine.
  • Illness control: a decrease proportion of American Indian and Alaska Local enrollees than White enrollees had their blood sugar and blood power managed as a part of diabetes care.

Gaps within the analysis and knowledge provide demanding situations in working out the stories of particular racial and ethnic teams in Medicare Merit plans.

  • Medicare Merit insurers don’t record information on prior authorization charges and denials by way of race or ethnicity, or using supplemental advantages for the total Medicare Merit inhabitants or by way of race or ethnicity.
  • Not one of the research read about results of care reminiscent of mortality charges or hospital-acquired infections.
  • None read about using post-acute care amongst Medicare Merit enrollees by way of race and ethnicity.
  • Not one of the research record findings for Local Hawaiians or different Pacific Islanders one at a time from different teams, and not one of the research examine measures of high quality of care and beneficiary revel in between folks figuring out as two or extra racial or ethnic teams with White enrollees.
  • Not one of the research provide stratified estimates for the entire racial and ethnic teams indexed in current federal minimum standards. Research additionally various in how they recognized race and ethnicity, with some the use of self-identified information and others the use of imputed race/ethnicity information.
  • Few research stratify race/ethnicity findings amongst Medicare Merit enrollees by way of gender or rural place of abode.
  • Not one of the research stratify findings amongst Medicare Merit enrollees by way of race/ethnicity and twin eligibility standing, despite the fact that folks of colour comprise a disproportionate share of Medicare Merit enrollees who’re dual-eligible folks.

With greater than part of Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Merit plans, the research on this overview supply some perception into how nicely Medicare Merit plans are serving folks of colour relative to White enrollees. Then again, the slightly small selection of research coupled with gaps in analysis provide demanding situations for beneficiaries in making protection choices and for policymakers in working out how very best to make Medicare Merit paintings nicely most often and for folks of colour.



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