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Quality Matters: Which Plans Provide Highest-Quality Health Care?

Five words or less (NewsUSA) - Choosing the right health care plan can have a big impact on your quality of life, especially if you're a senior or otherwise Medicare eligible. With the 5-star Special Enrollment Period underway through November, now is the time to consider whether your current plan provides the high-quality care and value of a 5-star Medicare health plan. To help Medicare beneficiaries understand why quality matters and what it means to their health, Kaiser Permanente, which has the most 5-star plans nationwide for 2013, is sharing information about a key area to consider when evaluating a Medicare plan -- preventive care. "Medicare members should select a plan that is proactive in helping them stay healthy and active as they age. They need to know if their plan does a good job preventing them from getting sick through screenings, vaccines and tests," said Jed Weissberg, M.D., medical director, Kaiser Permanente Medicare plans. "They also need to know how well their plan manages chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes." Kaiser Permanente scores well above the national average in preventive screenings. For example, only one in six traditional Medicare members -- 16 percent -- used a free preventive service in 2011, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. By contrast, nearly 90 percent of eligible Kaiser Permanente Medicare members received breast cancer screenings, and nearly 88 percent received colorectal cancer screenings, as reported by the 2012 Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set, commonly known as HEDIS. Ratings matter, because if CMS rates a Medicare health plan 5 out of 5 stars, beneficiaries can feel confident about choosing the highest-quality plan available and join that plan almost any time of year. Learn more about the Medicare Star Quality Ratings and Kaiser Permanente's Medicare plans by visiting kp.org/medicare or by calling 1-855-817-5831. 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.