July 19—The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is contemplating assigning a visual cue—such as stars or another easy-to-understand symbol—to hospitals in order to help consumers digest and compare quality information from different institutions, according to a recent article in Kaiser Health News

Medicare would include the star ratings on its Hospital Compare website, basing star ratings on many of the 100 quality measures Medicare already reports, says Kaiser. 

According to the article, critics have expressed concern about the potential accuracy of a star rating system and suggest it might be misleading. For example, the Association of American Medical Colleges said a star rating system “may make inappropriate distinctions for hospitals whose performance is not statistically different…[and] exaggerate minor performance differences on [quality] measures," Kaiser reports. 

Medicare already uses a five-star system to rate the private Medicare Advantage health insurance plans from which one in four U.S. seniors get insurance. 

Publication Date: Friday, July 19, 2013