The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an updated data snapshot detailing the impact of COVID-19 on Medicare beneficiaries, particularly among underserved beneficiaries including racial and ethnic minorities, adults 85 years old and older, and people with certain pre-existing conditions. More than 2.7 million beneficiaries were diagnosed with COVID-19 during the snapshot period, and nearly 700,000 beneficiaries were hospitalized with COVID-19, based on a review of services provided January 1, 2020 to December 26, 2020 (for claims received by January 22, 2021).

Although the snapshot data suggests COVID-19 continues to impact certain populations disproportionately, it also points to the importance of COVID-19 vaccines and other opportunities for prevention and treatment in disadvantaged groups. Capturing and understanding this data is an essential part of ensuring the health of all Medicare beneficiaries, and it can also advance public health policies that promote equity.

This new snapshot features Medicare data for services provided from January 1, 2020 to December 26, 2020 and is an update to data previously captured for services provided between January 1, 2020 and November 21, 2020.

New in this snapshot are additional data on COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates by race/ethnicity. Other highlights in the report include:

  • Since the last snapshot released in January 2021, COVID-19 cases increased by more than 790,000 and hospitalizations grew by more than 206,000.
  • The rate of COVID-19 cases in rural areas (4,271 per 100,000) is higher than in urban areas (4,151 per 100,000) for the first time since CMS started releasing this snapshot.
  • Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) spending associated with COVID-19 hospitalizations grew to $10.3 billion.
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native beneficiaries continued to have the highest COVID-19 hospitalization rate (2,393 per 100,000), followed by African American (1,937 per 100,000) and Hispanic (1,617 per 100,000) beneficiaries. The new breakdowns by race/ethnicity and age show this pattern continues across all four age groups included in the snapshot.

In addition to updating the COVID-19 data snapshot, CMS has taken measures based on the data collected. This proves, once again the importance of Data Analytics when making decisions in the healthcare industry.

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