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An analysis of disenrollment from Medicare managed care plans by Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes.

Atherly A, Hebert PL, Maciejewski ML. An analysis of disenrollment from Medicare managed care plans by Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes. Medical care. 2005 May 1; 43(5):500-6.

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RESEARCH OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this work is to determine whether high-cost high-risk Medicare patients with diabetes in managed care plans disenroll more quickly than lower-cost lower-risk Medicare patients with diabetes. If high-cost high-risk patients with diabetes do disenroll more quickly, Medicare managed care plans benefit financially from favorable disenrollment. STUDY DESIGN: Time in a health maintenance organization (HMO) was modeled using a duration model with the number of months in the HMO as the dependent variable, controlling for censoring. Data were drawn from a representative sample of Medicare patients with diabetes in the FFS sector in 1994. The panel was followed for 4 years, 1995-1998. The sample included all 6839 individuals who enrolled in a Medicare HMO for at least 1 month during the 48-month observation window. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We found a statistically significant negative association between the time in an HMO and pre-enrollment Part B expenditures (beta = -0.00001, t = -4.39) and any Part A expenditures (beta = -0.465, t = -1.98), and 2 of 4 diabetic complications (heart complications: beta = -0.0773, t = -4.61; vision complications beta = -0.2474, t = -1.94). Of the plan characteristics, only the drug benefit variable (beta = 0.151, t = 5.64) had a statistically significant coefficient. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, our results support the hypothesis that high-cost, high-risk individuals disenroll from Medicare HMOs sooner than lower-cost lower-risk individuals. However, this effect is mitigated by plans offering better prescription drug benefits. We did find some evidence that patients with diabetes with very high pre-enrollment Part A costs may remain longer in HMOs relative to patients with diabetes with lower Part A prior year expenditures.

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