May 14, 2007
Published in: Women's Health Issues, v. 17, no. 3, May-June 2007, p. 131-138
PURPOSE: To assess gender differences in the quality of care for cardiovascular disease and diabetes for enrollees in managed care plans. METHODS: The authors obtained data from 10 commercial and 9 Medicare plans and calculated performance on 6 Health Employer Data and Information Set (HEDIS) measures of quality of care (beta-blocker use after myocardial infarction [MI], low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-C] check after a cardiac event, and in diabetics, whether glycosylated hemoglobin [HgbA1c], LDL cholesterol, nephropathy, and eyes were checked) and a 7th HEDIS-like measure (angiotensin-converting enzyme [ACE] inhibitor use for congestive heart failure). A smaller number of plans provided HEDIS scores on 4 additional measures that require medical chart abstraction (control of LDL-C after cardiac event, blood pressure control in hypertensive patients, and HgbA1c and LDL-C control in diabetics). The authors used logistic regression models to adjust for age, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and plan. MAIN FINDINGS: Adjusting for covariates, we found significant gender differences on 5 of 11 measures among Medicare enrollees, with 4 favoring men. Similarly, among commercial enrollees, we found significant gender differences for 8 of 11 measures, with 6 favoring men. The largest disparity was for control of LDL-C among diabetics, where women were 19% less likely to achieve control among Medicare enrollees (relative risk [RR] = 0.81; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.64-0.99) and 16% less likely among commercial enrollees (RR = 0.84; 95%CI = 0.73-0.95). CONCLUSION: Gender differences in the quality of cardiovascular and diabetic care were common and sometimes substantial among enrollees in Medicare and commercial health plans. Routine monitoring of such differences is both warranted and feasible.