Care Experiences of Managed Care Medicare Enrollees Near the End of Life

Published in: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Vol. 61, no. 3, Mar. 2013, p. 407-412

by Marc N. Elliott, Amelia Haviland, Paul Cleary, Alan M. Zaslavsky, Donna O. Farley, David J. Klein, Carol A. Edwards, Megan K. Beckett, Nathan Orr, Debra Saliba

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OBJECTIVES: To compare reports about care experiences of individuals who died within 1 year of survey with reports of those who did not. DESIGN: Medicare Advantage (MA) Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys asked about care experiences. Survey completion dates were linked to Social Security Administration death records to identify enrollees dying within 1 year of survey completion. Propensity-score weighting combined with regression-based case-mix adjustment was used to compare these individuals' experiences with experiences of those who were alive 1 year later. SETTING: Nationally representative sample of MA enrollees. PARTICIPANTS: Four hundred two thousand five hundred ninety-three MA enrollees responding to 2008 and 2009 CAHPS Surveys. MEASUREMENTS: Outcomes were five care ratings (plan, prescription drug coverage, doctor, specialists, care) and five composite measures of care (getting needed care, getting care quickly, doctor communication, getting drugs, getting drug information). Analyses were adjusted for age, sex, race and ethnicity, education, Medicaid status, geographic region, and several health status measures. RESULTS: Twelve thousand one hundred two enrollees (3%) died within 1 year of survey completion (near-end-of-life group). Those enrollees reported slightly better experiences than other enrollees with respect to getting care quickly (+2%, P < .001) and gave slightly higher ratings for their plans (+1%, P = .02) and prescription drug coverage (+1%, P < .001). There were no measures of participant experience for which the near-end-of-life group reported worse experiences than other enrollees. CONCLUSION: Contrary to analyses based on retrospective reports from surviving relatives after an individual's death, MA enrollees' reports about care within 1 year of death were as good as or better than reports of other MA enrollees. Future research might investigate whether results are similar in other Medicare populations.

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