Archive for May 26th, 2011

Medicare Plans’ New Ratings Based Partly on Health Insurance Rates

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

medicareOne of the most recent changes from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is a new ratings system for Medicare Advantage Plans, says Patty Henetz of The Salt Lake Tribune.  In the article “New ratings for Medicare Advantage plans may boost quality in Utah, nation,” we learn that insurers will be judged on 36 factors related to 5 different groupings and issued a rating between one and five stars.  Companies consistently rating above average will be rewarded with incentives like rebates and bonuses.  This quality control rating system allows consumers to pick their insurer based on more than just health insurance rates, but the quality of service they will receive as well.  The incentives to insurers also make it more lucrative for insurance companies to offer quality service to consumers.

The federal Medicare website will flag insurance plans that have had ratings below three stars for three consecutive years with a warning sign.  Unfortunately for consumers in Utah and much of the central U.S., the highest rated plans are not available to them.  Not one five star plan was available in Utah and noone in the state was signed up for a four star plan, probably due to low availability.  If the ratings systems improve the quality of plans like the government hopes, residents of Utah and other central states should have access to better Medicare Advantage plans soon.

Out of the 523 plans rated, only three received a five star rating this year.  The highest rated plans were in Florida, competing with Go Blue Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Arizona.  Non-profit insurance companies tend to have higher ratings than those for profit.  States in the Northeast and on the West Coast seem to have higher rated plans available than other areas.  Lower enrollment and plans that are too new are two reasons that those in the central U.S. had a harder time finding highly rated plans.  In addition to ratings based on factors like customer service, healthy consumers, and responsiveness; increases of health insurance rates will also be closely monitored.  Any increase above 10% for monthly payments will be more closely reviewed.