Medicare Advantage Is Associated with Lower Utilization of Total Joint Arthroplasty

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2024 Feb 7;106(3):198-205. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.23.00507. Epub 2023 Nov 16.


Background: Medicare Advantage (MA) insurers use managed care techniques to review the utilization of medical services and control costs. It is unclear if MA enrollees have a lower utilization of elective surgical procedures such as inpatient hip and knee total joint arthroplasty (TJA), which have traditionally been covered by traditional Medicare (TM) without restrictions.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study using a 20% sample of 2018 TM claims and MA encounter records for 5,300,188 TM enrollees and 1,970,032 MA enrollees who were 65 to 85 years of age. We calculated unadjusted and adjusted differences (controlling for beneficiary and market characteristics) in the incidence of TJA for MA compared with TM, and by MA plan type. Finally, we calculated differences in the time to contact with an orthopaedic surgeon and time to the surgical procedure among enrollees with an osteoarthritis diagnosis.

Results: After controlling for observable characteristics, there was a 15.6% lower incidence of TJA in MA enrollees compared with TM enrollees (p < 0.001). Compared with TM enrollees, health maintenance organization (HMO) enrollees were 28.1% less likely to undergo TJA, controlling for observable characteristics (p < 0.001). From the initial diagnosis, the time to contact with an orthopaedic surgeon and the time to the surgical procedure were also lower among TM enrollees compared with MA enrollees. At 2 years after an osteoarthritis diagnosis, 10.4% of TM enrollees, 7.9% of preferred provider organization (PPO) enrollees, and 5.7% of HMO enrollees had undergone inpatient TJA.

Conclusions: MA coverage was associated with a lower utilization of elective, inpatient hip and knee TJA. MA was also associated with a longer time to orthopaedic surgeon evaluation and surgical procedure.

Level of evidence: Prognostic Level III . See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Managed Care Programs
  • Medicare Part C*
  • Osteoarthritis*
  • United States