Evidence suggests that small, yet significant, disparities may exist between men and women who have MCC. A number of studies report that women are more likely to have, and be treated for, MCC compared to men (Ashman et al., 2013; CMS, 2012; Ward et al., 2013; Machlin et al., 2013). For example, the 2012 Edition of the CMS Chronic Conditions Chartbook reports that over 72% of women in the Medicare program have two or more chronic conditions compared to 65% of men; a difference of 7% (CMS, 2012). This difference is similar when comparing prevalence rates for men and women across different study populations, and across higher numbers of chronic conditions, as shown below in Exhibit 4A-C. The MCC prevalence rates are higher for women than men, with few exceptions.
Exhibits 4A-C: Differences in MCC Prevalence Rates between Men and Women in Six Studies
It is important to note that the difference in MCC prevalence between men and women may be explained by intrinsic gender-specific characteristics. The accumulation of chronic conditions is time-dependent, meaning that individuals who live longer are at greater risk for acquiring a chronic condition. Since women live on average 5 years longer than men (81.1 vs. 76.3), it is possible that women in each of the studies referenced above are, on average, older than the men, resulting in a difference in MCC prevalence that is driven by age rather than by gender specifically (CDC, 2011).
Similarly, women are more likely to utilize healthcare services than men (CDC, 2001) accounting for part of the service utilization disparities. Consequently, at least one investigator has concluded that clinically meaningful differences in MCC prevalence between men and women may not exist (Quinones et al., 2011).