3 ways Medicare Advantage affects primary care physicians

There are few statistically significant differences between the way primary care physicians treat patients in Medicare Advantage and fee-for-service Medicare, according to the Commonwealth Fund. 

In a report published March 21, the nonprofit examined data from providers serving mostly Medicare Advantage patients, those serving mostly traditional Medicare patients, and those serving an even mix of both. 

Around a quarter of physicians saw a mix of traditional Medicare and MA patients. Another 29% saw only MA or mostly MA patients, and 47% saw all or mostly traditional Medicare patients. 

The Commonwealth Fund's analysis found few major differences between these three provider types. 

Here are three differences to note: 

  1. Physicians who saw mostly traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage patients were equally likely to develop treatment plans with patients they can carry out in their daily lives. Physicians who treated an even mix of these patients were less likely to report developing these plans. Physicians who saw mostly Medicare Advantage patients were also more likely to record patients' self-management goals in their medical record.

  2. Around 8 in 10 physicians who saw primarily MA patients reported being notified when their patients were admitted to the hospital or seen in the emergency department, compared to 7 in 10 who saw mostly fee-for-service patients. 

  3. Physicians who saw mostly patients in MA reported being more likely to screen patients for domestic violence.

According to the Commonwealth Fund, the lack of significant differences in how providers deliver care depending on their patient mix could be for two reasons. MA plans either have limited influence on care delivery, or their influence spills over into the practice of primary care providers, regardless of their patient mix. 

 Read more here. 

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