Insurers Say Seniors In Medicare Advantage Spend Less Time In Hospital

Insurers say seniors in Medicare Advantage spend less time in the hospital. CQ HealthBeat reports: "A new study issued Tuesday by the health insurance industry touts the benefits offered by Medicare Advantage, just as Congress contemplates slashing bonus payments to the managed-care program to help pay for the health care overhaul."

"The study by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), released during a Washington conference, says that seniors enrolled in MA spent fewer days in the hospital and experienced fewer readmissions. It looked at beneficiaries enrolled in MA plans in California and Nevada in 2006, using statewide data from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, and compared them with seniors who used traditional fee-for-service Medicare. Those enrolled in MA plans in California spent 30 percent fewer days in the hospital, and those in Nevada spent 23 percent fewer days, the study found. They were re-admitted to the hospital for the same condition in the same quarter 15 percent less often in California and 33 percent less often in Nevada. ... About 10 million seniors are enrolled in MA plans and the insurance industry has been mounting a vigorous defense of them, in the face of plans by Democrats to reduce payments in MA plans to the same level as fee-for-service plans" (Norman, 9/16).

Meanwhile, Modern Healthcare reports on a Democratic House leader's criticism of the report: "'AHIP's reports attempt to portray taxpayer overpayments to MA plans as indispensable for low-income, minority Medicare beneficiaries, when the opposite is true,' Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said in a written statement. 'These overpayments to private insurers increase premiums for all Medicare beneficiaries to pad the pockets of insurance companies'" (DoBias, 9/15).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.