Disparities in Rates of Surgical Intervention among Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Medicare Accountable Care Organizations

Andrew J. Schoenfeld, Daniel J. Sturgeon, Justin B. Dimick, Christopher M. Bono, Justin A. Blucher, Lauren B. Barton, Joel S. Weissman, Adil H. Haider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To assess the effect of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) on the use of surgical services among racial and ethnic minorities. Background: Health reform efforts were expected to reduce healthcare disparities. The impact of ACOs on existing disparities in access to surgical care remains unknown. Methods: We used national Medicare data (2009-2014) to compare rates of surgery among white, African American, Hispanic, and Asian Medicare beneficiaries for coronary artery bypass grafting, colectomy, total hip arthroplasty, hip fracture repair, and lumbar spine surgery. We performed a pre-post difference in differences analysis between African American, Hispanic, and Asian patients receiving surgical care in ACO and non-ACO organizations before and after the implementation of ACOs. The time period 2009 to 2011 was considered the pre-ACO period, and 2012 to 2014 the post-ACO period. Results: Rates of surgical intervention in the ACO cohort were significantly lower (P < 0.001) as compared to non-ACOs for whites, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians in both the pre- and post-ACO periods. There was no significant difference in the adjusted change in the rate of surgical interventions among minority patients as compared to whites in ACOs and non-ACOs between 2009 to 2011 and 2012 to 2014. The odds of receiving surgical intervention were lowest for minority patients in ACOs during the post-ACO period (P < 0.001). Conclusions: We found persistent differences in the use of surgery among racial and ethnic minorities between the time periods 2009 to 2011 and 2012 to 2014. These disparities were not impacted by the formation of ACOs. Programs that specifically incentivize ACOs to improve surgical access for minorities may be necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-464
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Surgery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Accountable Care Organizations
  • health reform
  • healthcare disparities
  • surgery


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