Racial Disparities Found in Healthcare Through Medicare Advantage

African Americans and Hispanics reported healthcare experiences as being similar to or worse than those experienced by Whites.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health recently released data by racial or ethnic groups on the quality of healthcare received by individuals with Medicare Advantage.

The data was based on an analysis that used 2 sources of information: the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) and the Medicare Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Survey.

“This is the first time that CMS has released Medicare Advantage data stratified by race and ethnicity,” said Cara James, director of the CMS Office of Minority Health. “Increasing understanding and awareness of disparities and their causes is the first step of our path to equity. While these data do not tell us why differences exist, they show where we have problems and can help spur efforts to understand what can be done to reduce or eliminate these differences.”

The results of the quality of care analysis showed that Asians and Pacific Islanders normally receive care that is similar to or better than care received by Whites. Meanwhile, African Americans and Hispanics were found to receive care that is similar to or worse than care received by Whites.

Furthermore, African Americans and Hispanics reported their healthcare experiences as being similar to or worse than those experienced by Whites.

The database is intended to help improve quality and accountability and presents HEDIS and CAHPS scores for different racial and ethnic groups at the level of individual Medicare contracts.

However, CMS states that the information provided by the database is not used to evaluate care through the star ratings program Medicare Advantage and Part D Start Ratings program or to be used for payment purposes.

“These data are a good first step in understanding disparities in Medicare Advantage,” said Sean Cavanaugh, CMS deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare. “We look forward to working with plans in closing the differences in the quality of care that people with Medicare Advantage receive.”