The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released new data detailing the cumulative impact of COVID-19 on Medicare CHIP beneficiaries (data; FAQ; CMS Administrator Seema Verma blog post). Overall, CMS states the data show that older individuals and those with chronic health conditions are at the highest risk for COVID-19. The data also speak to racial disparities in the health care system and their resulting effects on minority populations.
In regards to the data – which include the total number of reported COVID-19 cases among all Medicare beneficiaries from Jan. 1 and May 16, 2020 – CMS makes the following observations:
- During this time period, there were approximately 518 confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries;
- In addition, approximately 175 beneficiaries per 100,000 were hospitalized due to COVID-19;
- Black beneficiaries were hospitalized due to COVID-19 at a rate of nearly four times higher than White beneficiaries;
- In addition to Black beneficiaries, Hispanic beneficiaries experienced 258 hospitalizations per 100,000, Asia beneficiaries experienced 187 hospitalizations per 100,000, and White beneficiaries had 123 hospitalizations per 100,000;
- End-stage renal disease (ESRD) beneficiaries had the highest rate of hospitalization among all Medicare beneficiaries (1,341 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries);
- Second to ESRD beneficiaries were beneficiaries dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid (473 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries);
- Those living in rural areas experienced the lowest rates of hospitalization compared to those living in more populous regions, with only 57 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries.
In observing these phenomena, CMS spoke to the importance of furthering the use of value-based care principles in service delivery, where payment is aligned with outcomes and consumers have greater access to information about disease prevention. Of note, CMS reports that the Center for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is developing guidance to states on using innovative, value-based payment approaches to address the social determinants of health, including a focus on dually-eligible beneficiaries. CMS also notes that the Office of Minority Health plans to host a series of listening sessions with stakeholders that provide care for racial and ethnic minorities, intended to inform CMS’ strategy on improving care for these populations.
CMS states it will update this data on a monthly basis as more claims become available, and that it intends to release similar information on Medicaid beneficiaries in the future.