Medicare's Star Quality Ratings Not Reaching Target Audience

  • Originally published November 14, 2011 , last updated February 12, 2015
  • Medicare

A survey released by Kaiser Permanente this month found that only 18% of Medicare-eligible seniors were familiar with the star quality ratings, and that only one-third of those seniors used the ratings to pick their health plan. This could be because the Medicare Star Quality Ratings System is fairly new. CMS put the complicated measurement system in place within the last year or so and are still familiarizing themselves with it.

The star quality rankings combine 53 care quality measures that included preventive screenings, the management of chronic conditions, and customer service. They are then put into a format that allows Medicare beneficiaries to shop and compare prices and services before buying a plan. But the survey shows that less than 30% of respondents know where to find information about Medicare Star Quality Ratings.

Even though usage is low, CMS has done its best to blend all of these multiple dimensions of quality and service and plan performance into one measure. They have looked at past research of how consumers understand rankings and rating to put the star system together.

So the big question is how do you get the ranking in front of consumers? Insurance agents may be in a better position than anyone to educate seniors on how to use the star ratings to compare plans in their area.