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Comparing mortality and time until death for Medicare HMO and FFS beneficiaries.

Maciejewski ML, Dowd B, Call KT, Feldman R. Comparing mortality and time until death for Medicare HMO and FFS beneficiaries. Health services research. 2001 Feb 1; 35(6):1245-65.

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OBJECTIVE: To compare adjusted mortality rates of TEFRA-risk HMO enrollees and disenrollees with rates of beneficiaries enrolled in the Medicare fee-for-service sector (FFS), and to compare the time until death for decedents in these three groups. DATA SOURCE: Data are from the 124 counties with the largest TEFRA-risk HMO enrollment using 1993-1994 Medicare Denominator files for beneficiaries enrolled in the FFS and TEFRA-risk HMO sectors. STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective study that tracks the mortality rates and time until death of a random sample of 1,240,120 Medicare beneficiaries in the FFS sector and 1,526,502 enrollees in HMOs between April 1, 1993 and April 1, 1994. A total of 58,201 beneficiaries switched from an HMO to the FFS sector and were analyzed separately. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: HMO enrollees have lower relative odds of mortality than a comparable group of FFS beneficiaries. Conversely, HMO disenrollees have higher relative odds of mortality than comparable FFS beneficiaries. Among decedents in the three groups, HMO enrollees lived longer than FFS beneficiaries, who in turn lived longer than HMO disenrollees. CONCLUSIONS: Medicare TEFRA-risk HMO enrollees appear to be, on average, healthier than beneficiaries enrolled in the FFS sector, who appear to be in turn healthier than HMO disenrollees. These health status differences persist, even after controlling for beneficiary demographics and county-level variables that might confound the relationship between mortality and the insurance sector.

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