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Medicare Ratings System Largely Untapped By Seniors

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, October 19, 2011

Although the KP survey shows most Medicare beneficiaries aren't using the quality rankings, Weissberg says it's probably not practical to expect that physicians or other clinician could help Medicare beneficiaries wade through the quality report. "That is not a task that too many physicians like to entertain because it is almost as confusing for the physicians as it is for the beneficiaries. I am hoping this will be as much a value to them as to the beneficiaries," he says.

And even though usage is low, Weissberg says "CMS has done its best to blend all of these multiple dimensions of quality and service and plan performance into one measure.

"They have taken advantage of prior consumer research looking at how consumers understand rankings and ratings and thus they chose the star system. So it is really a question of how do you get that star ranking in front of the consumer," he says. "I am hoping media and other public services will themselves go to the Website and make that information more available to members in a readily digestible form."

Kaiser Permanente's survey shows that less than 30% of respondents know where to find information about Medicare Star Quality Ratings. CMS offers details on its website. Kaiser Permanente introduced a websitefor the rating system and designed to provide easy answers to frequently asked questions about the system.

This phone survey of 483 Medicare-eligible seniors was conducted Sept. 21-25 by Harris Interactive on behalf of Kaiser Permanente, and has a sampling error of +/- 4 percent


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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