Measuring resource use in Medicare Advantage using Encounter data

Jeah Jung, Caroline Carlin, Roger Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: To check the completeness of Medicare Advantage (MA) Encounter data and to illustrate a process to measure resource use among MA enrollees using Encounter data. Data sources: 2015 Preliminary MA Encounter, Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MedPAR), Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information System (HEDIS), and 2013 Traditional Medicare (TM) claims data. Study design: Secondary data analysis. Data collection/extraction methods: We calculated the percentage of each contract's total hospitalizations in Encounter data after identifying total inpatient stays from Encounter and MedPAR data. We constructed each contract's ambulatory visits and emergency department (ED) visits per 1000 enrollees using Encounter data and compared those visit counts with the counts from HEDIS. We defined high data completeness as having less than 10% missing hospital stays and less than ±10% difference in ambulatory and ED visits between Encounter and HEDIS data. We used TM payments as standardized prices of services to examine resource use among MA enrollees with cancer in the contracts with high data completeness. Principal findings: We identified 83 of 380 MA contracts with high data completeness. Total resource use per enrollee with cancer in the 83 contracts was $14,715 in 2015. Service-specific resource use was $5342 for inpatient care, $5932 for professional services and $3441 for outpatient facility services. These represent what an MA enrollee with cancer would have cost on average if MA plans paid providers at TM payment rates, holding the observed utilization constant. Conclusions: Checking the completeness of Encounter data is an important step to ensure the validity of research on MA resource use. Using Encounter data to measure MA resource use is feasible. It can compensate for the lack of payment information in Encounter data. It will be important to identify and refine ways to best use Encounter data to learn about care provision to MA enrollees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-181
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Services Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


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