Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Misidentification of Dementia in Medicare Claims: Results from the Washington Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging Project

Carolyn W. Zhu, Yian Gu, Stephanie Cosentino, Anton J. Kociolek, Michelle Hernandez, Yaakov Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Misidentification of dementia in Medicare claims is quite common. Objective: We examined potential race/ethnic disparities in misidentification of dementia in Medicare claims in a diverse cohort of older adults who underwent careful clinical assessment. Methods: Participants were enrolled in the Washington Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging Project (WHICAP), a multiethnic, population-based, prospective study of cognitive aging in which dementia status was assessed using a rigorous clinical protocol. ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes in all available Medicare claims (1999-2019) were compared to clinical dementia diagnosis and categorized into three mutually exclusive groups: 1) congruent-, 2) over-, and 3) under- identification during the study period. Multinomial logistic regression model was used to examine the relationship between race (White, African American/Black, other) and ethnicity (Hispanic/Latinx, non-Hispanic/Latinx) and congruency of dementia identification after controlling for clinical (cognition, function, comorbidities) and demographic characteristics (age, sex, education), and inpatient and outpatient utilization. Results: Across all person-years, 88.4% had congruent identification of dementia compared to clinical diagnosis, in 4.1% of the times participants were over-identified with dementia, and 7.5% of the times the participants were under-identified. Rates of misidentification was higher in minority participants than in White, non-Hispanic participants. Multivariable estimation results showed that the probability of over-identification with dementia was 2.2% higher for African American/Black than White (p = 0.05) and 2.7% higher for Hispanic participants than non-Hispanics (p = 0.03) participants. Differences in under-identification by race/ethnicity were not statistically significant. Conclusions: African American/Black and Hispanic participants were more likely over-identified with dementia in Medicare claims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-368
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - 24 Oct 2023


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Medicare claims
  • clinical diagnosis
  • disparities


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