Medicare Advantage beneficiaries less likely to use post-acute care, analysis finds

More Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are being discharged from the hospital directly to their homes, instead of to a post-acute care facility, than traditional fee-for-service patients, according to a new analysis from Avalere.

The study found 77% of Medicare Advantage patients are sent home directly from the hospital, without home healthcare services or other forms of post-acute care. That's compared to 63% of traditional Medicare beneficiaries.

Avalere also broke down beneficiaries' post-discharge destinations by condition type, with more Medicare Advantage patients discharged directly home for each diagnostic group. The analysis found that 46% of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are discharged home after a major joint replacement, compared to 19% of traditional fee-for-service patients.

“Our research demonstrates that MA plans are using post-acute care differently,” said Fred Bentley, vice president at Avalere. “MA plans are incented to actively manage patients, and they may keep patients in hospital settings longer to facilitate less intensive care for a patient following a hospitalization when appropriate.”

The analysis also predicted that post-acute care usage rates may change in the coming years, as Medicare Advantage is expected to grow by 20% by 2020.