Medicare Advantage (MA) has increased popularity among eligible participants by providing additional benefits from a private insurer, but these plans are omitted from several government cost savings programs, including bundled payment models. The purpose of this study was to determine whether 90-day episode-of-care (EOC) costs and outcomes were different for patients with MA plans undergoing total joint arthroplasty compared with traditional Medicare patients.
We reviewed claims data for a consecutive series of patients undergoing primary total hip and knee arthroplasty from 2015 to 2018 at our institution with traditional Medicare coverage or MA through a single private insurer. Demographics, comorbidities, 90-day costs, readmissions, complications, and discharge disposition were compared between the groups. A multivariate regression analysis was performed to determine the independent effect of insurance status on EOC costs and outcomes.
Of the 10,869 patients in the study, 1,076 (9.9%) were covered under an MA plan. MA patients were more likely to be discharged to a rehabilitation facility (19% versus 14%, P < 0.0001). No significant differences were observed in length of stay (1.88 versus 1.88 days, P = 0.1439), complications (3.9% versus 3.5%, P = 0.4554), or readmissions (5.9% versus 4.9%, P = 0.1893). EOC costs were significantly higher for the MA group ($21,347 versus $19,551, P < 0.0001).
Patients with MA have higher total EOC costs than traditional Medicare beneficiaries with comparable short-term outcomes after total hip and knee arthroplasty. Further study is needed to determine whether alternative payment models in MA patients can improve care and reduce costs.