Disability stage and receipt of recommended care among elderly medicare beneficiaries

Ling Na, Ph.D., Sean Hennessy, PharmD., Ph.D., Hillary R. Bogner, M.D., M.S. C.E., Jibby E. Kurichi, M.P.H., Margaret Stineman, M.D., Joel E. Streim, M.D., Pui L. Kwong, M.P.H., Dawei Xie, Ph.D., Liliana E. Pezzin, Ph.D., J.D

Disability and Health Journal, January 2017,  Volume 10, Issue 1, Pages 48–57
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dhjo.2016.09.007



Receipt of recommended care among older adults is generally low. Findings regarding service use among persons with disabilities supports the notion of disparities but provides inconsistent evidence of underuse of recommended care.


To examine the extent to which receipt of recommended care among older Medicare beneficiaries varies by disability status, using a newly developed staging method to classify individuals according to disability.


In a cohort study, we included community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older who participated in the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey between 2001 and 2008. Logistic regression modeling assessed the association of receiving recommended care on 38 indicators across different activity limitation stages.


Nearly one out of every three elderly Medicare beneficiaries did not receive overall recommended care. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) revealed a decrease in use of recommended care with increasing activity limitation stage. For instance, ORs (95% CIs) across mild, moderate, severe and complete limitation stages (stages I–IV) compared to no limitation (stage 0) in ADLs were 0.99 (0.94–1.05), 0.89 (0.83–0.95), 0.81 (0.75–0.89) and 0.56 (0.46–0.68). Disparities in receipt of recommended care by disability stage were most marked for care related to post-hospitalization follow-up and, to a lesser degree, care of chronic conditions and preventive care.


Elderly beneficiaries at higher activity limitation stages experienced substantial disparities in receipt of recommended care. Tailored interventions may be needed to reduce disparities in receipt of recommended medical care in this population.