Dying with dementia in Medicare Advantage, Accountable Care Organizations, or traditional Medicare

Joan M. Teno, Laura M. Keohane, Susan L. Mitchell, David J. Meyers, Jennifer N. Bunker, Emmanuelle Belanger, Pedro L. Gozalo, Amal N. Trivedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background/Objective: Medicare Advantage (MA) and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) operate under incentives to reduce burdensome and costly care at the end of life. We compared end-of-life care for persons with dementia who are in MA, ACOs, or traditional Medicare (TM). Design, Setting, and Participants: Retrospective study of decedents with dementia enrolled in MA, attributed to an ACO, or in TM. Decedents had a nursing home stay between 91 and 180 days prior to death, two or more functional impairments, and mild to severe cognitive impairment. Measurements: Hospitalization, invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) use, and in-hospital death in the last 30 days of life reported in Medicare billing. Results: Among 370,094 persons with dementia, 93,801 (25.4%) were in MA (mean age [SD], 86.9 [7.7], 67.6% female), 39,586 (10.7%) were ACO attributed (mean age [SD], 87.2 [7.6], 67.3% female), and 236,707 (63.9%) were in TM (mean age [SD], 87.0 [7.8], 67.6% female). The proportion hospitalized in the last 30 days of life was higher among TM enrollees (27.9%) and those ACO attributed (28.1%) than among MA enrollees (20.5%, p ≤ 0.001). After adjustment for socio-demographics, cognitive and functional impairments, comorbidities, and Hospital Referral Region, adjusted odds of hospitalization in the 30 days prior to death was 0.72 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.70–0.74) among MA enrollees and 1.05 (95% CI 1.02–1.09) among those attributed to ACOs relative to TM enrollees. Relative to TM, the adjusted odds of death in the hospital were 0.78 (95% CI 0.75–0.81) among MA enrollees and 1.02 (95% CI 0.96–1.08) for ACO participants. Dementia decedents in MA had a lower likelihood of IMV use (adjusted odds ratio 0.80, 95% CI 0.75–0.85) compared to TM. Conclusions: Among decedents with dementia, MA enrollees but not decedents in ACOs experienced less costly and potentially burdensome care compared with those with TM. Policy changes are needed for ACOs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2802-2810
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Accountable Care Organizations
  • Medicare Advantage plans
  • dementia
  • end of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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