Stars don’t matter to real people

Kaiser Permanente published a study on Monday that found only about 6% of Medicare beneficiaries used the CMS star quality ratings to select a Medicare Advantage plan.  And only 2% know what their plan’s currnet rating is.

What is important to customers regarding their insurance companies?  Pay my claims. Fix problems quickly.  Don’t let problems happen.  Don’t raise my premiums too much.  Otherwise, I don’t want to know you are there.

What does CMS measure?  Two years ago 90% of a plan’s members got their flu shots.  What does that mean to me?  I get flu shots from my doctor, not from the health plan.  And, if I like my doctor, I assume I’m getting good care.  One thing I’m sure of:  I don’t want my health insurance company in the exam room with me.

The star rating system is based on what CMS thinks should be important for Medicare beneficiaries.  I haven’t found any evidence that CMS surveyed beneficiareis to discover what is actually important to them.

Kaiser Permanente concludes that plans need to do more to inform beneficiareis about the star ratings, so they can make informed choices.  I think CMS should scrap the whole thing and start over with the four or five things that really matter to health insurance consumers.

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