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JAMA. 2013 Jul 10;310(2):155-62. doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.7837.

Geographic variation in cardiovascular procedure use among Medicare fee-for-service vs Medicare Advantage beneficiaries.

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  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.



Little is known about how different financial incentives between Medicare Advantage and Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursement structures influence use of cardiovascular procedures.


To compare regional cardiovascular procedure rates between Medicare Advantage and Medicare FFS beneficiaries.


Cross-sectional study of Medicare beneficiaries older than 65 years between 2003-2007 comparing rates of coronary angiography, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), and coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery across 32 hospital referral regions in 12 states.


Rates of coronary angiography, PCI, and CABG surgery.


We evaluated a total of 878,339 Medicare Advantage patients and 5,013,650 Medicare FFS patients. Compared with Medicare FFS patients, Medicare Advantage patients had lower age-, sex-, race-, and income-adjusted procedure rates per 1000 person-years for angiography (16.5 [95% CI, 14.8-18.2] vs 25.9 [95% CI, 24.0-27.9]; P < .001) and PCI (6.8 [95% CI, 6.0-7.6] vs 9.8 [95% CI, 9.0-10.6]; P < .001) but similar rates for CABG surgery (3.1 [95% CI, 2.8-3.5] vs 3.4 [95% CI, 3.1-3.7]; P = .33). There were no significant differences between Medicare Advantage and Medicare FFS patients in the rates per 1000 person-years of urgent angiography (3.9 [95% CI, 3.6-4.2] vs 4.3 [95% CI, 4.0-4.6]; P = .24) or PCI (2.4 [95% CI, 2.2-2.7] vs 2.7 [95% CI, 2.5-2.9]; P = .16). Procedure rates varied widely across hospital referral regions among Medicare Advantage and Medicare FFS patients. For angiography, the rates per 1000 person-years ranged from 9.8 to 40.6 for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries and from 15.7 to 44.3 for Medicare FFS beneficiaries. For PCI, the rates ranged from 3.5 to 16.8 for Medicare Advantage and from 4.7 to 16.1 for Medicare FFS. The rates for CABG surgery ranged from 1.5 to 6.1 for Medicare Advantage and from 2.5 to 6.0 for Medicare FFS. Across regions, we found no statistically significant correlation between Medicare Advantage and Medicare FFS beneficiary utilization for angiography (Spearman r = 0.19, P = .29) and modest correlations for PCI (Spearman r = 0.33, P = .06) and CABG surgery (Spearman r = 0.35, P = .05). Among Medicare Advantage beneficiaries, adjustment for additional cardiac risk factors had little influence on procedure rates.


Although Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in capitated Medicare Advantage programs had lower angiography and PCI procedure rates than those enrolled in Medicare FFS, the degree of geographic variation in procedure rates was substantial among Medicare Advantage beneficiaries and was similar in magnitude to that observed among Medicare FFS beneficiaries.

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