Spending On Postacute Care After Hospitalization In Commercial Insurance And Medicare Around Age Sixty-Five

Publication Abstract

Regenbogen, Scott E., Anne H. Cain-Nielsen, John D. Syrjamaki, Lena M. Chen, and Edward Norton. 2019. "Spending On Postacute Care After Hospitalization In Commercial Insurance And Medicare Around Age Sixty-Five." Health Affairs, 38(9): 1505-1513.

Postacute care costs are the primary determinant of episode spending around hospitalization. Yet there is little evidence that greater spending on postacute care improves readmission rates or functional recovery. Recent Medicare payment reform evaluations have suggested that postacute care spending is responsive to episode-based incentives. However, it remains unknown whether Medicare payment policies are responsible for excess postacute care spending, compared with that of commercial payers. In a population-based, statewide collaborative of Michigan hospitals, we used regression discontinuity design among propensity-weighted, age-adjusted cohorts to compare postacute care spending between patients with commercial insurance and those with Medicare around age sixty-five. Spending was 68-230 percent greater among fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries than among similar commercially insured people across varied medical and surgical conditions. Despite greater spending, there were no differences in readmission rates. These findings suggest that postacute care utilization is highly sensitive to payer influence, and there may be an opportunity for additional savings in Medicare without sacrificing quality.


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