Medicare Advantage patients can receive higher quality diabetes care than traditional Medicare beneficiaries for a fee, new analysis found. This includes earlier detection of diabetes and greater use of preventive care.
The report was prepared by Avalere Health, a health care consulting firm, and commissioned by the Better Medicare Alliance, a Medicare Advantage advocacy organization. The study included nearly 400,000 MAs and traditional beneficiaries with prediabetes, nearly 325,000 MAs and traditional beneficiaries with incident type 2 diabetes, and more than 2.2 million MAs and traditional beneficiaries with chronic type 2 diabetes.
MA patients with prediabetes who developed type 2 diabetes were found to receive their diagnosis earlier than paid Medicare patients. The median time between the date of prediabetes index (first inpatient or outpatient diabetes event during the study period) and type 2 diagnosis was 401 days for MA patients and 543 days for fee-for-service patients.
The study also found that MA beneficiaries sought more preventive care. More MA patients filled prescriptions for diabetes medications to prevent progression than traditional Medicare beneficiaries. For example, 46% of MA patients filled an insulin prescription nine months after diagnosis, versus 35% of traditional ones.
In addition, MA beneficiaries with prediabetes and diabetes were found to have fewer emergency department visits and hospital admissions than fee-for-service patients. Total medical costs were also lower among patients with MA compared to fee-for-service, the report found.
“With nearly one-third of seniors diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, this study shows how Medicare Advantage is already working to address the unique needs of this beneficiary population by focusing on earlier detection and greater use of preventive care.” resulting in fewer hospitalizations and lower overall medical costs and creating better opportunities to age with vitality and independence for all seniors living with this condition compared to FFS Medicare,” said Mary Beth Donahue, president and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance, in the news exemption.
Medicare Advantage is designed to become the predominant form of coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Users often choose MA plans have a wider range of benefits, while others are choosing traditional Medicare for more provider options, a recent Commonwealth Fund report found.
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