Persistence of High-Need Status Over Time Among Fee-for-Service Medicare Beneficiaries

Med Care Res Rev. 2021 Oct;78(5):591-597. doi: 10.1177/1077558719901219. Epub 2020 Jan 23.


Although administrative claims data can be used to identify high-need (HN) Medicare beneficiaries, persistence in HN status among beneficiaries and subsequent variation in outcomes are unknown. We use national-level claims data to classify Fee-for-Service (FFS) Medicare beneficiaries as HN annually among beneficiaries continuously enrolled between 2013 and 2015. To examine persistence of HN status over time, we categorize longitudinal patterns in HN status into being never, newly, transiently, and persistently HN and examine differences in patients' demographic characteristics and outcomes. Among survivors, 23% of beneficiaries were HN at any time-4% persistently HN, 13% transiently HN, and 6% newly HN. While beneficiaries who were persistently HN had higher mortality, utilization, and expenditures, classification as HN at any time was associated with poor outcomes. These findings demonstrate longitudinal variability of HN status among FFS beneficiaries and reveal the pervasiveness of poor outcomes associated with even transitory HN status over time.

Keywords: Medicare; health care utilization; high-need; mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Fee-for-Service Plans*
  • Health Expenditures
  • Humans
  • Medicare*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States