Medicare Capitation and Quality of Care for the Frail Elderly

Published In: Health Care Financing Review, Spec. No., 1986, p. 57-63

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1985

by Albert L. Siu, Robert H. Brook, Laurence Rubenstein

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Previous studies have shown that the quality of care provided in health maintenance organizations (HMO's) is either similar or better than that in fee-for-service settings; however, few studies have included sufficiently large numbers of older persons. Although it is reasonable to believe that healthy older patients will do as well in HMO's as younger people, the outcome for the frail elderly is less certain. This population may not do as well in the conservative medical practice environment of HMO's, and decreased hospitalization may have detrimental effects on their health. On the other hand, this population may benefit from the improved continuity of care and potential for comprehensive assessment in HMO's. The quality of care received by the frail elderly will be an important test of the success of Medicare capitation.

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