Medicare Advantage beneficiaries use less post-acute care than those with traditional Medicare: Study

Medicare Advantage enrollees were less likely to report receiving post-acute care after hospitalization than their counterparts in traditional Medicare, a study published Aug. 18 in JAMA Health Forum found. 

The study compared community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries' self-reported use of post-acute care from 2015 to 2017. Among MA beneficiaries, 16.2 to 17.7 percent reported using post-acute care services, compared to 22.4 to 24.1 percent of traditional Medicare beneficiaries. 

Among those who received post-acute care, Medicare Advantage beneficiaries also reported shorter durations for these services than their counterparts in traditional Medicare.

Medicare Advantage beneficiaries were less likely to report improved functioning as a result of post-acute care than those in traditional Medicare. There were not statistically significant differences in self-reported functional improvement at the end of care or if beneficiaries met their goals between the two groups. 

Previous studies have found Medicare Advantage enrollees are less likely to use post-acute care, though those studies did not use self-reported data from beneficiaries, the study's authors wrote. 

"We believe that the use of self-reported outcomes adds important evidence since patient-reported outcomes are needed to improve care delivery processes," the authors wrote.  "As enrollment in MA continues to grow, understanding differences in the use of services and outcomes by enrollment status is important, particularly if differential service use is associated with perceived differences in care for MA enrollees."

The study was written by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. Read the full study here.

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