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Health Serv Res. 1992 Dec;27(5):651-69.

How the elderly fare in HMOs: outcomes from the Medicare competition demonstrations.

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  • 1Division of Geriatric Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

Abstract

Because of concern about the effects of prepaid care on outcomes for elderly enrollees in health maintenance organizations (HMOs), a prospective study of access to care and functional outcomes was performed. HMOs with Medicare risk contracts in January 1985 (N = 17) were selected from ten communities and were matched for comparison with ten similar communities where no Medicare HMOs were in operation. Random samples of HMO enrollees (N = 2,098) and fee-for-service (FFS) nonenrollees (N = 1,059) were assessed at baseline and at follow-up one year later (HMO = 1,873, FFS = 916) to observe access to care and functional outcomes. At baseline, nonenrollees had more bed days and poorer functional status than HMO enrollees. While fewer HMO enrollees experienced declines in functional status between baseline and follow-up (e.g., patient's ability to function declined in one or more activities of daily living: HMOs at 5.3 percent versus FFS at 8.5 percent, p < .01), after controlling for other factors with logistic regression, enrollment status was not significantly associated with functional decline. Self-rated health, history of hospitalization, age of 80 or older and baseline functional status were predictive of decline in function. After controlling for baseline differences, HMO disenrollees also experienced similar functional declines at follow-up compared to continuously enrolled beneficiaries. These findings suggest that Medicare beneficiaries who belong to HMOs experience comparable rates of functional decline to those experienced by beneficiaries in the FFS sector with similar initial levels of function and health status. Together with results showing no significant difference in medical visits according to various symptoms, we conclude that access and quality of care delivered by HMOs is comparable to that provided in FFS settings.

PMID:
1464538
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1069904
Free PMC Article
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