This month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a report on the quality of the health care delivered to people with Medicare Advantage. The report shows separate results for women and men, noting that it appears that the gender of the care recipient may influence the racial and ethnic differences in health care.
Throughout the report, various measures show comparisons between men and women from Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, and White populations. Importantly, the report shows data both from patient responses on surveys showing their experiences and from provider data on what care they received.
For the patient responses or “patient experience measures,” the report details results for eight different measures, including how easy it was for the patient to get needed care, how well their doctors communicated with them, and how well their care was coordinated, among others. For each measure, CMS identifies how the patients reported their care and compared the answers across racial and ethnic populations. As an example, for the measure “Patient Experience: Getting Appointments and Care Quickly,” Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, and Hispanic women reported getting appointments and care less quickly than White women did. The same held true for Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, and Hispanic men relative to White men.
For the objective set of care measures, also called “clinical care measures,” the report shows results for 24 different measures, including the percentage of Medicare enrollees ages 50 to 75 who had appropriate screening for colorectal cancer, the number of diabetics with controlled blood sugar, and how often appropriate monitoring of patients taking long-term medication occurred, among others. For example, for the measure “Clinical Care: Avoiding Potentially Harmful Drug-Disease Interactions in Elderly Patients with Dementia,” the standard of avoiding potentially harmful interactions was met less often for older Hispanic men with dementia than for older White men with dementia, but was met more often for Asian or Pacific Islander and Black men than for White men. This same pattern held true for women.
This report is a valuable tool to understand what racial and ethnic disparities exist in care delivery in Medicare Advantage plans, and the separation of the data into gender categories allows even greater insight into how patients are experiencing and receiving care.