The federal government has made an ambitious change to its Medicare health care program this week. Now, Medicare information will be at the disposal of employers, insurance companies and consumer advocacy groups. This information will allow these groups to issue reports on local health care professionals and hospitals. In this way, groups can rate health care providers based upon their performance within the Medicare system. Patient information will remain confidential.
The decision was made based upon the variances in performance amongst doctors nationwide. Without an adequate method of rating these health care professionals, consumers were unable to know which doctors were performing poorly. Thus, they were at risk of getting less-than-appropriate care. The Medicare information will help consumers make informed decisions when looking for care. For insurers, access to such information may help company’s price insurance coverage more accurately. It may also change which health care professionals are approved to provide care in specific insurance networks. Employers have been most receptive to the change, saying that it will help them make updates to their insurance plans.
In the past, insurance companies have attempted to use statistical data to rate health care providers. This data, however, was ineffective as it did not account for how well doctors performed in their given field. The Medicare data is a much more reliable source for this information, allowing insurers to build more precise policies.