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Press Releases: Georgia

November 15, 2012

Kaiser Permanente Provides Seniors Tips for Selecting a Medicare Plan as Medicare Advantage Plans Reach Record Enrollment Nationwide

ATLANTA — With Medicare Advantage enrollment at an all-time high of 13 million, it is more important than ever for seniors to be sure their plan provides the highest quality service available. Kaiser Permanente encourages Medicare-eligible beneficiaries to take advantage of the Medicare Star Quality Rating system as a useful tool in selecting a top-performing plan.

Kaiser Permanente Medicare Advantage

“My patients have come to expect certain everyday signs that I’m caring for their health — checking their blood pressure, listening to their heart, and making sure they’re on schedule for routine health screenings,” says Carole Gardner, MD, chief of Elder Care for Kaiser Permanente Georgia. “It’s just as important that seniors look for signs of quality care when choosing a health plan. Does the plan have tools to help them stay as healthy as possible, and manage chronic conditions and medications easily and effectively?”

To help Medicare-eligible beneficiaries select a high-quality plan, Kaiser Permanente provides these five tips:

  • Know Your Medicare Health Plan’s Star Quality Rating — The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services assigns an overall star rating to each Medicare plan for how well that plan performs. The Medicare Star Quality Ratings range from 1 star (the lowest rating) to 5 stars (the highest or excellent rating). The system rates plans according to nine categories, including preventive care, managing chronic conditions, member satisfaction, customer service and pharmacy care. To find a plan’s star rating, visit medicare.gov/find-a-plan.

  • Use the Medicare Star Quality Ratings to Find a Quality Medicare Plan — The highest-rated plans provide coordinated, patient-centered care designed to keep seniors healthy. When seniors suffer from chronic illness or require hospitalization, high-quality plans utilize proactive treatment protocols to deliver excellent follow-up care when a patient leaves the hospital. Quality care is best measured by the approach taken to keep seniors healthy at every stage of their care.

  • Look for Customer Service and Responsiveness — The best Medicare Advantage plans provide necessary health care without delays, which means patients can get appointments quickly and have their prescriptions filled easily. Some plans use electronic health records that allow patients to go online and immediately see what appointments are available and view their lab results as soon as they are ready. Does the plan emphasize quick response and great support for the needs of the patient?

  • Seniors Can Get 5-Star Excellence year round — Medicare’s 5-Star Special Enrollment Period allows seniors to enroll in a high-quality 5-star plan year round, as long as they meet all Medicare Advantage enrollment requirements.

  • People Who Turn 65 Should Not Wait — Seniors who become eligible for Medicare as they turn 65 should be sure to enroll during the three-month period prior to and after their 65th birthday. After this initial enrollment period, they may be subject to higher premiums or late penalties if there has been a gap in their coverage.
Medicare 4.5 StarsNational Committee for Quality Assurance 2012 - 2013 Rankings of Commercial Health Plans

Out of the 563 Medicare Advantage plans rated nationwide, Kaiser Permanente Georgia is the highest-rated individual plan in the state with 4.5 stars. Only 11 Medicare health plans with prescription drug benefit hold the 5-star rating. Six of those top-rated plans are operated by Kaiser Permanente. Its California (Northern and Southern California), Northwest, Hawaii, Colorado, Mid-Atlantic States and Ohio regions are all rated 5 stars for 2013 for Medicare Advantage Parts C and D.

Kaiser Permanente’s Northwest region includes Oregon and Washington. Kaiser Permanente’s Mid-Atlantic States region includes Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

You can learn more about the Medicare Star Quality Ratings and Kaiser Permanente’s Medicare plans by visiting kp.org/medicarestars, or medicare.gov, or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Plan performance summary star ratings are assessed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services each year and may change from one year to the next.

About Kaiser Permanente of Georgia
Kaiser Permanente is Georgia’s largest not-for-profit health plan. Its mission is to provide high quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of its members and the communities it serves. Kaiser Permanente serves more than 235,000 members in a 28-county service area including metro Atlanta with care focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists, and team of heath care providers. Expert and caring medical teams are supported by industry-leading technology and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Nationally, Kaiser Permanente is recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers, serving more than 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. For more information, visit www.kp.org.