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Measuring the Quality of Healthcare in the U.S.

The quality of the U.S. health system is improving in many areas, but comparable countries continue to outperform the United States on key measures. In this brief on the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker, analysts from the Kaiser Family Foundation compile an overall picture of health care quality in the United States, using the best available data from numerous sources on health outcomes, quality of care, and access to services.

Medicare Advantage 2015 Spotlight: Enrollment Market Update

This Data Spotlight reviews national and state-level enrollment trends as of March 2015 and examines variation in enrollment by plan type and firm. It analyzes the most recent data on premiums, out-of-pocket limits, Part D cost-sharing for drugs, and plans’ quality ratings for Medicare Advantage enrollees.

Reading the Stars: Nursing Home Quality Star Ratings, Nationally and by State

This issue brief presents national and state-level analysis of nursing homes based on the Five-Star Quality Rating System, recently updated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to help consumers compare nursing homes when selecting one for themselves or their family members. The issue brief finds that more than one-third (36%) of the nation’s 15,500 nursing homes certified by Medicare or Medicaid received relatively low ratings of 1 or 2 stars (out of a possible 5 stars). In 11 states, at least 40 percent of nursing homes in the state have 1- or 2-star ratings. In 23 states, however, at least half of the nursing homes have 4- or 5- star ratings. This issue brief discusses relevant policy considerations regarding nursing home quality—a serious issue in light of the vulnerability of the nursing home population and recent reports of problems arising from inadequate staffing, fire safety hazards, and substandard care.

Few Consumers Use Information on Health Provider Quality or Price

In his latest column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman discusses new poll findings showing very small numbers of consumers are using provider quality and price information. All previous columns by Drew Altman are available online.