Gender Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease Care Among Commercial and Medicare Managed Care Plans

Ann F. Chou, Lok Wong, Carol S. Weisman, Sophia Chan, Arlene S. Bierman, Rosaly Correa-de-Araujo, Sarah Hudson Scholle

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42 Scopus citations


Background: Gender disparities in cardiovascular care have been documented in studies of patients, but little is known about whether these disparities persist among managed health care plans. This study examined 1) the feasibility of gender-stratified quality of care reporting by commercial and Medicare health plans; 2) possible gender differences in performance on prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease in US health plans; and 3) factors that may contribute to disparities as well as potential opportunities for closing the disparity gap. Methods: We evaluated plan-level performance on Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®) measures using a national sample of commercial health plans that voluntarily reported gender-stratified data and for all Medicare plans with valid member-level data that allowed the computation of gender-stratified performance data. Key informant interviews were conducted with a subset of commercial plans. Participating commercial plans in this study tended to be larger and higher performing than other plans who routinely report on HEDIS performance. Results: Nearly all Medicare and commercial plans had sufficient numbers of eligible members to allow for stable reporting of gender-stratified performance rates for diabetes and hypertension, but fewer commercial plans were able to report gender-stratified data on measures where eligibility was based on recent cardiac events. Over half of participating commercial plans showed a disparity of ≥5% in favor of men for cholesterol control measures among persons with diabetes and persons with a recent cardiovascular procedure or heart attack, whereas no commercial plans showed such disparities in favor of women. These gender differences favoring men were even larger for Medicare plans, and disparities were not linked to health plan performance or region. Conclusions and Discussion: Eliminating gender disparities in selected cardiovascular disease preventive quality of care measures has the potential to reduce major cardiac events including death by 4,785-10,170 per year among persons enrolled in US health plans. Health plans should be encouraged to collect and monitor quality of care data for cardiovascular disease for men and women separately as a focus for quality improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-149
Number of pages11
JournalWomen's Health Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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