Medicare: Most Beneficiaries Receive Some but Not All Recommended Preventive Services

GAO-03-958 Published: Sep 08, 2003. Publicly Released: Oct 08, 2003.
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Medicare, the federal health program insuring almost 35 million beneficiaries age 65 and older, covers certain preventive services, such as flu shots and mammograms. Most beneficiaries receive care through Medicare's fee-for-service program, under which they generally receive these services as part of visits to the doctor for specific illnesses or conditions. Other beneficiaries receive services under Medicare's managed care program, called Medicare + Choice. GAO was asked to determine (1) the extent to which beneficiaries received recommended preventive services through existing visits, (2) whether approaches used by Medicare + Choice plans provide insight for improving delivery of preventive care services for fee-for-service beneficiaries, and (3) what the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is doing to explore suggested options for delivering preventive care to fee-for-service beneficiaries. GAO's work included analyzing data from four national health surveys and reviewing five Medicare + Choice plans considered to have innovative approaches to delivering preventive services. GAO also interviewed Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CMS officials and reviewed documents on CMS demonstrations related to preventive services.

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