Beyond Rates, Coding and Call Letters

Krista Drobac, Former Interim Executive Director, Better Medicare Alliance

My name is Krista

 

Here in Washington, we get caught up in the policy weeds reading reports and interpreting what policymakers think about Medicare Advantage. We discuss the rate notice, so-called “coding intensity” and benchmarking.  However, if you take a step back and look at what really matters, i.e. what seniors think, the results are clear. Medicare Advantage recipients are highly satisfied, and those who switched to Medicare Advantage from fee-for-service like it far better. This should mean something in policy circles.

The Better Medicare Alliance is dedicated to a research and communications agenda that demonstrates how Medicare Advantage is enhancing seniors’ health and well-being while driving systemic improvements in care delivery. We have reviewed and engaged traditional research examining prevention, screening and chronic disease management, as well as other areas where Medicare Advantage is leading. We will continue to do so. However, we recently decided that part of research is also understanding what the beneficiaries of Medicare Advantage really think. We can talk about value over volume and innovations in delivery of care, but knowing more about what seniors believe should also drive our perceptions and policymaking.

So, we asked seniors what they think. We worked with two leading pollsters, one Republican (The Winston Group) and one Democratic (The Mellman Group).  We called 600 seniors who are registered voters and have Medicare Advantage.  Going into it, we knew we would find that seniors like Medicare Advantage.  What we found is that they love Medicare Advantage. 

Ninety-one percent of seniors in the survey said they are satisfied with their coverage, with 69 percent saying they are highly satisfied. Among seniors who switched to Medicare Advantage from fee-for-service Medicare, 58 percent say Medicare Advantage is better, while just 2 percent say fee-for-service is better.

The survey found exceptionally high satisfaction with the quality of care Medicare Advantage provides:

  • On a scale of one-to-nine, seniors rate the quality of care they receive in Medicare Advantage an 8.0.
  • By an 87-3 margin, seniors in Medicare Advantage are satisfied with the preventive care they receive.
  • By an 86-2 margin, seniors are satisfied with how Medicare Advantage helps manage chronic conditions.
  • By a 79-3 margin, seniors in Medicare Advantage are satisfied with how their care is coordinated among doctors and other providers.

The same week that our research was completed and released, there was a briefing on Medicare Advantage on Capitol Hill. Very important and informative, it featured what we like to focus on here in Washington: payment benchmarks, quality measurement, risk adjustment, data collection and global payments.  These topics are critical to policymaking and so are beneficiaries’ experiences with the program.