Background: Racial/ethnic disparities are assessed using either self-report or claims data. We compared these two data sources and examined contributors to discrepancies in estimates of disparities.
Methods: We analyzed self-report and matching claims data from Medicare Beneficiaries 65 and older who participated in the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, 1999-2002. Six preventive procedures were included: PSA testing, influenza vaccination, Pap smear testing, cholesterol testing, mammography, and colorectal cancer testing. We examined predictors of self-reports in the absence of claims and claims in the absence of self-reports.
Results: With the exception of PSA testing, racial/ethnic disparities in preventive procedures are generally larger when using Medicare claims than when using patients' self-report. Analyses adjusting for age, gender, income, educational level, health status, proxy response and supplemental insurance showed that minorities were more likely to self-report preventive procedures in the absence of claims. Adjusted odds ratios ranged from 1.07 (95% CI: 0.88 - 1.30) for PSA testing to 1.83 (95% CI: 1.46 - 2.30) for Pap smear testing. Rates of claims in the absence of self-report were low. Minorities were more likely to have PSA test claims in the absence of self-reports (1.55 95% CI: 1.17 - 2.06), but were less likely to have influenza vaccination claims in the absence of self-reports (0.69 95% CI: 0.51 - 0.93).
Conclusion: These findings are consistent with either racial/ethnic reporting biases in receipt of preventive procedures or less efficient Medicare billing among providers with large minority practices.