Study: Consumers more satisfied with Medicare Advantage than commercial plans

Medicare Advantage members are generally more satisfied with their care than those enrolled in commercial plans, according to J.D. Power's 2015 Medicare Advantage Member Satisfaction Study.

The study was based on responses from 2,731 members of Medicare Advantage plans across the U.S., and nearly half of those polled strongly agreed that their health plan is a "trusted partner in their health and wellness."

J.D. Power also measured overall satisfaction based on six factors: coverage and benefits, provider choice, customer service, information and communication, cost, and processing. The satisfaction findings were then based on a 1,000 point scale.

The study found that appointment wait times for primary care physicians and specialists were comparable to those of commercial health plans. Medicare Advantage members also were more likely to understand how their plan works. Additionally, Medicare Advantage members showed overall satisfaction with their prescription costs, if given verbal and written explanations of why their medication is priced the way it is. But predictably, members were less satisfied if not given an explanation.

"Members pay more to move from Medicare to Medicare Advantage, and the plans and the government do an excellent job demonstrating the value of the Medicare Advantage plan," Rick Johnson, director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power, said in the study announcement. "Members feel the money spent is worth it." 

Among Medicare Advantage providers, Kaiser Permanente ranks highest in member satisfaction.

More Medicare Advantage plans also qualified as high-preforming in this year's Star Ratings from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Yet a recent Health Affairs study questions how well the plans are able to serve seriously ill seniors, noting that these high-cost patients often switch to traditional Medicare.

To learn more:
- here's the study announcement

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