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Context: Substantial racial disparities in the use of some health services exist; however, much less is known about racial disparities in the quality of care.

Objective: To assess racial disparities in the quality of care for enrollees in Medicare managed care health plans.

Design and Setting: Observational study, using the 1998 Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set (HEDIS), which summarized performance in calendar year 1997 for 4 measures of quality of care (breast cancer screening, eye examinations for patients with diabetes, {beta}-blocker use after myocardial infarction, and follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness).

Participants: A total of 305 574 (7.7%) beneficiaries who were enrolled in Medicare managed care health plans had data for at least 1 of the 4 HEDIS measures and were aged 65 years or older.

Main Outcome Measures: Rates of breast cancer screening, eye examinations for patients with diabetes, {beta}-blocker use after myocardial infarction, and follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness.

Results: Blacks were less likely than whites to receive breast cancer screening (62.9% vs 70.9%; P<.001), eye examinations for patients with diabetes (43.6% vs 50.4%; P = .02), {beta}-blocker medication after myocardial infarction (64.1% vs 73.8%; P<.005), and follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness (33.2 vs 54.0%; P<.001). After adjustment for potential confounding factors, racial disparities were still statistically significant for eye examinations for patients with diabetes, {beta}-blocker use after myocardial infarction, and follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness.

Conclusion: Among Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in managed care health plans, blacks received poorer quality of care than whites. (Authors)
Journal
2002
10
1288-1294
617-432-3124
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