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Keywords:

  • Race/ethnicity;
  • Medicare Advantage;
  • public quality reporting

Objective

To assess the extent to which the racial/ethnic composition of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans reflects the composition of their areas of operation, given the potential incentives created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Quality Bonus Payments for such plans to avoid enrolling racial/ethnic minority beneficiaries.

Data Sources/Study Setting

2009 Medicare Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (MCAHPS) survey and administrative data from the Medicare Enrollment Database.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods

We defined each plan's area of operation as all counties in which it had MA enrollees, and we created a matrix of race/ethnicity by plan by county of residence to assess the racial/ethnic distribution of each plan's enrollees in comparison with the racial/ethnic composition of MA beneficiaries in its operational area.

Principal Findings

There is little evidence that health plans are selectively underenrolling blacks, Latinos, or Asians to a substantial degree. A small but potentially important subset of plans disproportionately serves minority beneficiaries.

Conclusions

These findings provide a baseline profile that will enable crucial ongoing monitoring to assess how the implementation of Quality Bonus Payments may affect MA plan coverage of minority populations.