Author(s): Cooper JK, Kohlmann T, Michael JA, Haffer SC, Stevic M
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: A new measurement of health care quality for Medicare beneficiaries has been implemented by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA). This paper describes the program, presents baseline data and highlights associated issues. DESIGN: The Health Outcomes Survey (HOS) is a longitudinal cohort mail survey. Changes in population health status after 2 years will be evaluated on an individual plan level. SETTING: Two-hundred and eighty-seven US Medicare managed care plans. MAIN OUTCOMES MEASURES: Physical component and mental component summary scales derived from the SF-36. FINDINGS: Baseline data documented lower health status in older populations, while functional limitations and disease prevalence were higher. Among different plans, mean functional levels were found to be similar, although a few plans contained populations with exceptionally low levels. These data do not support the assertion that enrolees in for-profit plans are healthier than non-profit plans. CONCLUSIONS/IMPLICATIONS: The HOS is the first large-scale program to evaluate health outcomes among older Americans. HCFA recognizes several technical and policy issues. Technical issues include possible biased reporting for subpopulations, the validity of proxy responses and respondent burden. Policy issues concern the appropriateness of using a generic measure such as the SF-36 and how much change in health status can be attributed to quality of health care. HCFA plans to extend the HOS to beneficiaries in traditional Medicare. The HOS project is expected to encourage more efforts to maintain or improve the health status of the Medicare managed care population.
This article was published in Int J Qual Health Care
and referenced in Pharmaceutica Analytica Acta