Higher Medicare Advantage star ratings linked with better patient outcomes, study finds


Medicare Advantage plans with higher star ratings are associated with improved patient outcomes, according to a study published in Health Affairs

For the study, researchers with the Brown University School of Public Health in Providence, R.I., examined a sample of more than 16 million Medicare Advantage enrollees in 515 contracts. Roughly 1.3 million of the enrollees were involved in a consolidation, a process that allows health plans to transfer enrollees to another plan. Most consolidations analyzed in the study were from a lower-rated to plan to a higher-rated one.

The researchers found enrollees who saw a one-star rating increase during this consolidation process were 20.8 percent less likely to choose another coverage option. Additionally, these members were 3.4 percent more likely to use a hospital with a higher star rating. They were 2.6 percent less likely to be readmitted within 90 days, according to the study.

"Overall, our study provides evidence that [Medicare Advantage] contract star ratings capture some important measures of quality and outcomes for enrollees. However, it is unclear whether all of the differences they indicate are clinically meaningful," the researchers concluded.

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