Medicare Advantage Plans: Thumbs Up or Down?

Austin Frakt says although Medicare Advantage plans used to be considered high cost, low-quality options, in recent years, these Medicare Advantage plans have vastly increased quality of care and have become less focused on cream-skimming healthier patients.   Medicare Advantage plans — private plans that serve as alternatives to the traditional, public program for those…

Measuring Patient Case Mix in Medicare

How does Medicare measure patient case mix?  For the most part, Medicare uses the Hierarchical Condition Category (HCC) model.  A recent CMS presentation describes the HCC model in more detail.  Today I review where CMS applies the HCC model, provide an overview of the HCC methodology, briefly describe its performance, and give some background on…

Does California really love Managed Care?

In short, yes. California is the land of managed care. Kaiser-Permanente–the managed care poster child–owns one third of the market.  Love for managed care is not just in the private market; in 2010, over half of all Medi-Cal and more than one-third of Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in managed care plans.  Further, California managed care…

Does getting cancer incentivize individuals to switch from Medicare managed care to FFS?

Medicare beneficiaries have a choice: pick the standard Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) benefit or rely on managed care plans to supply their healthcare through the Medicare Advantage (MA) program.  Many Medicare beneficiaries prefer MA because it offers them lower out-of-pocket costs and provide benefits not available in the traditional FFS Medicare program. Other beneficiaries prefer the…

Do you support ACOs?

Do you support Accountable Care Organizations?  Many policymakers think they are a great idea.  Why?  If ACOs better integrate care coordination between a variety of physician specialists and other providers, ACOs can increase the efficiency of the health care system.  Improving quality and reducing cost sounds like a great idea. To implement these integrated care settings in…

The CMS HCC Model

The CMS-HCC risk adjustment model is used to adjust payments for Part C benefits offered by MA plans and Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) organizations to aged/disabled beneficiaries. The CMS-HCC model includes both diseases and demographic factors. There are separate sets of coefficients for beneficiaries in the community, beneficiaries in long term care…