Medicare Advantage outperformed traditional Medicare on clinical quality, study finds

Medicare Advantage outpaced traditional Medicare on most clinical quality measures in 2010 and 2017, a study published in Health Affairs found. 

Researchers compared traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans on nine Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set quality measures and seven patient-reported quality metrics. 

For HEDIS measures, HMO Medicare Advantage plans performed better than traditional Medicare in both 2010 and 2017. PPO plans' quality improved between 2010 and 2017, but the gap in quality between these plans and traditional Medicare was smaller than for HMO plans. 

HMO plans' performance on patient-reported metrics improved from 2010 to 2017, beating traditional Medicare in 2017. 

Additionally, the study found that Medicare Advantage had lower use of emergency department visits, outpatient visits and inpatient admissions than traditional Medicare in 2010 and 2017. 

The study, published in the April issue of Health Affairs, was authored by researchers at Boston-based Harvard University and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. 

"As policy makers consider alternatives to address potential overpayments in Medicare Advantage, they should also consider the evidence that MA plans provide fewer services while also achieving equal or better quality performance relative to traditional Medicare on a broad array of measures," the authors concluded. 

Read the full study here. 

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