Since January 1, 2007, Medicare has covered abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening for new male enrollees with a history of smoking under the Screening Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms Very Efficiently (SAAAVE) Act. We examined the association between this program and abdominal ultrasonography for AAA screening, elective AAA repair, hospitalization for AAA rupture, and all-cause mortality.
We used a 20% sample of traditional Medicare enrollees from 2004 to 2008 to identify 65-year-old men eligible for screening and 3 control groups not eligible for screening (70-year-old men, 76-year-old men, and 65-year-old women). We used logistic regression to examine the change in outcomes at 365 days for eligible vs ineligible beneficiaries before and after SAAAVE Act implementation, adjusting for comorbidities, state-level smoking prevalence, geographic variation, and time trends.
Fewer than 3% of abdominal ultrasonography claims after 2007 were for SAAAVE-specific AAA screening. There was a significantly greater increase in abdominal ultrasonography use among SAAAVE-eligible beneficiaries (2.0 percentage points among 65-year-old men, from 7.6% in 2004 to 9.6% in 2008; 0.7 points [8.9% to 9.6%] among 70-year-old men; 0.7 points [10.8% to 11.5%] among 76-year-old men; and 0.9 points [7.5% to 8.4%] among 65-year-old women) (P < .001 for all comparisons with 65-year-old men). The SAAAVE Act was associated with increased use of abdominal ultrasonography in 65-year-old men compared with 70-year-old men (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.15; 95% CI, 1.11-1.19) (P < .001), and this increased use remained even when SAAAVE-specific AAA screening was excluded (AOR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.08-1.16) (P < .001). Implementation of the SAAAVE Act was not associated with changes in rates of AAA repair, AAA rupture, or all-cause mortality.
The impact of the SAAAVE Act on AAA screening was modest and was based on abdominal ultrasonography use that it did not directly reimburse. The SAAAVE Act had no discernable effect on AAA rupture or all-cause morality.