Health services appraisal and the transition to Medicaid Managed Care from fee for service

Randall Owen, Ph.D., Tamar Heller, Ph.D., Anne Bowers, M.S.

Disability and Health Journal, Vol. 9, Issue 2, p239–247
Published online: October 24, 2015



Many states are transitioning fee-for-service (FFS) Medicaid into Medicaid Managed Care (MMC) for people with disabilities.


This study examined managed care’s impact on health services appraisal (HSA) and unmet medical needs of individuals with disabilities receiving Medicaid. Key questions included 1) Do participant demographics and enrollment in MMC impact unmet medical needs and HSA? 2) Within MMC, do demographics and continuity of care relate to unmet medical needs? 3) Within MMC, do demographics, unmet medical needs and continuity of care relate to HSA?


We collected cross-sectional survey data (n = 1615) from people with disabilities in MMC operated by for-profit insurance companies (n = 849) and a similar group remaining in FFS (n = 766) in one state. Regression analyses were conducted across these groups and within MMC only.


Across Medicaid groups, MMC enrollment was not related to either HSA or unmet needs; health status, having a mental health disability and unmet transportation needs related to HSA and health status, unmet transportation needs and having a mental health or physical disability related to higher unmet medical needs. Within MMC, in addition to better health and fewer unmet medical needs, less continuity of care significantly decreased HSA. Higher unmet transportation needs, poorer health status, having a physical or mental health disability, and less continuity of care significantly decreased unmet medical needs.


This research points to the importance of meeting unmet needs of individuals in MMC and the need for increased continuity of care as people transition from FFS.