Kaiser Permanente Study Reveals Low Awareness of Medicare Rankings

Survey shows seniors don't use Medicare Star Quality Ratings System

OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Medicare open enrollment begins October 15 and with it so does the challenging task for many seniors of selecting a Medicare provider. To help consumers select a health plan based on quality, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services developed the Medicare Star Quality Ratings – an annual system that rates Medicare plans based on more than 50 care quality measures. However, a recent Kaiser Permanente survey reveals that few Medicare beneficiaries are familiar with CMS's rating system.

Conducted by Harris Interactive, the survey showed that only 18 percent of Medicare-eligible seniors said that they are familiar with the government's rating system. Of those that are familiar, less than one-third have used the system to select their health plan. Moreover, only 2 percent of respondents were aware of how their current plans rates. To Kaiser Permanente, these findings signal a need for consumers to prioritize health care quality.

"Evaluating a Medicare plan can be challenging. There are many things to consider, but quality should be at the top of any consumer's list," said Jed Weissberg, MD, senior vice president, Hospitals, Quality and Care Delivery Excellence, Kaiser Permanente. "Educating consumers about and encouraging them to use the Medicare Star Quality Ratings helps to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries are receiving only the best available care."

For consumers to become more familiar with the Medicare Star Quality Rating System, they first need to know where to go to learn about the topic. Kaiser Permanente's survey shows that fewer than 30 percent of respondents know where to find information about Medicare Star Quality Ratings. This fall, Kaiser Permanente introduced a website, www.kp.org/medicarestars, dedicated to the rating system and designed to provide easy answers to frequently asked questions about the system. CMS also offers details on its website, www.medicare.gov, and at the toll-free number 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"As health services providers, it is our responsibility to maintain the highest levels of quality," said Dr. Weissberg. "We urge seniors to hold their Medicare providers accountable by taking advantage of the Medicare Star Quality Ratings and selecting plans that meet and exceed quality standards."

Plan performance summary star ratings are assessed each year and may change from one year to the next. This study of Medicare-eligible seniors was conducted by phone Sept. 21-25 by Harris Interactive on behalf of Kaiser Permanente. A population of 483 Medicare-eligible seniors was surveyed and has a sampling error of +/- 4 percent. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.8 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

For more information, contact:
Diana Yee, 510-271-6671, [email protected]

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente