Association Between Health Plan Exit From Medicaid Managed Care and Quality of Care, 2006-2014

JAMA. 2017 Jun 27;317(24):2524-2531. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.7118.


Importance: State Medicaid programs have increasingly contracted with insurers to provide medical care services for enrollees (Medicaid managed care plans). Insurers that provide these plans can exit Medicaid programs each year, with unclear effects on quality of care and health care experiences.

Objective: To determine the frequency and interstate variation of health plan exit from Medicaid managed care and evaluate the relationship between health plan exit and market-level quality.

Design, setting, and participants: Retrospective cohort of all comprehensive Medicaid managed care plans (N = 390) during the interval 2006-2014.

Exposures: Plan exit, defined as the withdrawal of a managed care plan from a state's Medicaid program.

Main outcomes and measures: Eight measures from the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set were used to construct 3 composite indicators of quality (preventive care, chronic disease care management, and maternity care). Four measures from the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems were combined into a composite indicator of patient experience, reflecting the proportion of beneficiaries rating experiences as 8 or above on a 0-to-10-point scale. Outcome data were available for 248 plans (68% of plans operating prior to 2014, representing 78% of beneficiaries).

Results: Of the 366 comprehensive Medicaid managed care plans operating prior to 2014, 106 exited Medicaid. These exiting plans enrolled 4 848 310 Medicaid beneficiaries, with a mean of 606 039 beneficiaries affected by plan exits annually. Six states had a mean of greater than 10% of Medicaid managed care recipients enrolled in plans that exited, whereas 10 states experienced no plan exits. Plans that exited from a state's Medicaid market performed significantly worse prior to exiting than those that remained in terms of preventive care (57.5% vs 60.4%; difference, 2.9% [95% CI, 0.3% to 5.5%]), maternity care (69.7% vs 73.6%; difference, 3.8% [95% CI, 1.7% to 6.0%]), and patient experience (73.5% vs 74.8%; difference, 1.3% [95% CI, 0.6% to 1.9%]). There was no significant difference between exiting and nonexiting plans for the quality of chronic disease care management (76.2% vs 77.1%; difference, 1.0% [95% CI, -2.1% to 4.0%]). There was also no significant change in overall market performance before and after the exit of a plan: 0.7-percentage point improvement in preventive care quality (95% CI, -4.9 to 6.3); 0.2-percentage point improvement in chronic disease care management quality (95% CI, -5.8 to 6.2); 0.7-percentage point decrease in maternity care quality (95% CI, -6.4 to 5.0]); and a 0.6-percentage point improvement in patient experience ratings (95% CI, -3.9 to 5.1). Medicaid beneficiaries enrolled in exiting plans had access to coverage for a higher-quality plan, with 78% of plans in the same county having higher quality for preventive care, 71.1% for chronic disease management, 65.5% for maternity care, and 80.8% for patient experience.

Conclusions and relevance: Between 2006 and 2014, health plan exit from the US Medicaid program was frequent. Plans that exited generally had lower quality ratings than those that remained, and the exits were not associated with significant overall changes in quality or patient experience in the plans in the Medicaid market.

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / therapy
  • Consumer Advocacy
  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • Humans
  • Insurance Carriers / standards*
  • Insurance Carriers / statistics & numerical data
  • Managed Care Programs / standards*
  • Managed Care Programs / statistics & numerical data
  • Maternal Health Services / standards
  • Maternal Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Medicaid / standards*
  • Medicaid / statistics & numerical data
  • Preventive Health Services / standards
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*
  • Quality of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • State Health Plans / standards*
  • State Health Plans / statistics & numerical data
  • United States