Gender Differences in Patient Experience Across Medicare Advantage Plans

Published in: Women's Health Issues, Volume 30, Issue 6, pages 477-483 (November-December 2020). doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2020.08.009

Posted on on March 31, 2021

by Q. Burkhart, Marc N. Elliott, Amelia Haviland, Robert Weech-Maldonado, Shondelle Wilson-Frederick, Sarah J. Gaillot, Jake Dembosky, Carol A. Edwards, Sarah MacCarthy

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Medicare beneficiaries annually select fee-for-service Medicare or a private Medicare insurance (managed care) plan; information about plan performance on quality measures can inform their decisions. Although there is drill-down information available regarding quality variation by race and ethnicity, there remains a dearth of evidence regarding the extent to which care varies by other key beneficiary characteristics, such as gender. We measured gender differences for six patient experience measures and how gender gaps differ across Medicare plans.


We used data from 300,979 respondents to the 2015-2016 Medicare Advantage Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems surveys. We fit case mix-adjusted linear mixed-effects models to estimate gender differences and evaluate heterogeneity in differences across health plans.


Nationally, women's experiences were better than men's (p < .05) by 1 percentage point on measures involving interactions with administrative staff (+1.6 percentage point for customer service) and timely access to care (+1.1 percentage point for getting care quickly), but worse on a measure that may involve negotiation with physicians (getting needed care). Gender gaps varied across plans, particularly for getting care quickly and getting needed care, where plan-level differences of up to 5 to 6 percentage points were observed.


Although the average national differences in patient experience by gender were generally small, gender gaps were larger in some health plans and for specific measures. This finding indicates opportunities for health plans with larger gender gaps to implement quality improvement efforts.

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