Black, Latino and Asian Medicare beneficiaries are more likely to select Medicare Advantage plans over traditional Medicare plans than White beneficiaries, a new report found.
About 69% of Latino Medicare beneficiaries select Medicare Advantage, as do 65% of Black Medicare beneficiaries and 60% of Asian Medicare beneficiaries. About 48% of White Medicare beneficiaries choose Medicare Advantage.
The report was conducted by ATI Advisory and commissioned by the Better Medicare Alliance, a research and advocacy organization for Medicare Advantage. ATI Advisory relied on two data sources: the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, a survey of about 14,000 beneficiaries; and the Master Beneficiary Summary File, which provides information on program enrollment by race, ethnicity and county.
The organizations did the study because “understanding differences in Medicare beneficiary experiences by race and ethnicity can help policymakers and business leaders identify opportunities for health equity and continual improvement across both pathways to Medicare coverage,” the report stated.
The report found that 27% of Medicare Advantage enrollees are Black, Latino or Asian, versus 17% of traditional Medicare enrollees.
In addition, Medicare Advantage plans have more members with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty line than traditional Medicare plans do. The analysis also discovered that Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are 19% more likely to live in “socially vulnerable” counties and 20% more likely to live in counties “at high risk for negative impacts of natural hazards,” compared to traditional Medicare enrollees. The latter includes floods, wildfires and droughts.
Latino and White Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are less likely to have finished high school than those in traditional Medicare, the report found as well. Black, Latino and White Medicare Advantage enrollees are also more likely to battle food insecurity.
The findings from this report are backed up by another recent study done by Inovalon and Harvard Medical School, which discovered that Medicare Advantage enrollees are more likely to have lower incomes and are more likely to be non-White.
“This analysis once again confirms that MA serves a more diverse and economically disadvantaged population than traditional FFS Medicare,” said Better Medicare Alliance President Mary Beth Donahue in a news release.
The report comes at a time when Medicare Advantage beneficiaries now account for just over half of all Medicare beneficiaries, according to KFF.
Additional findings from the Better Medicare Alliance and ATI Advisory report include:
- When it comes to healthcare spending, Medicare Advantage enrollees spend less on healthcare than traditional Medicare enrollees.
- Medicare Advantage enrollees receive preventative care (like having a usual source of care or getting blood pressure checked) at “similar or higher rates” than traditional Medicare enrollees.
- Care quality is also similar between Medicare Advantage and traditional Medicare.
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