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Why Kaiser Medicare Advantage Plans Outrank Others In Customer Satisfaction

By Zawn Villines
Kaiser plans consistently rank highly, and J.D. Power's annual Medicare Advantage survey places them at number one. Here's why you should consider a Kaiser HMO.

J.D. Power's 1,000-point Medicare Advantage plan survey has ranked Kaiser plans number one for 5 years. In most states where Kaiser Medicare Advantage plans are available, customer satisfaction with Kaiser Medicare Advantage plans is high. Kaiser only offers health maintenance organization (HMO) plans. With this plan structure, premiums are lower but you must choose a provider within Kaiser's health network. This approach works well for many seniors, so Kaiser produces consistently high customer reviews.

Benefits of choosing an HMO

In 2020, 64% of Medicare Advantage plans were HMO plans. While these plans limit the providers you can choose, they also offer several benefits, including:

  • Lower premiums
  • Prescription drug coverage
  • Coverage for services Medicare doesn't cover, such as vision or dental care
  • In most cases, no need to get a referral to see a specialist

Reasons to consider Kaiser

Kaiser offers all of the benefits of an HMO plan. Many enrollees report even higher satisfaction than with other HMOs. In 2018, for example, Kaiser's Northern and Southern California plans were the only California health insurance plans to which the state's Office of the Patient Advocate awarded a 5-star rating. Kaiser plans also consistently get 5-star ratings in the state for mental health care. In 2019, Covered California ranked Kaiser very highly on a number of quality measures, including "overall quality" and "getting the right care."

In most states, Kaiser physicians are either board-certified or board-eligible. This means they are experts in their field of specialty, empowering them to offer quality, evidence-based treatment.

Kaiser Medicare Advantage beneficiaries report that Kaiser offers immense convenience. Beneficiaries can usually see several doctors under the same roof, making it easy to coordinate multiple appointments or schedule follow-up testing. Additionally, because all providers work within the Kaiser system, beneficiaries can expect well-integrated care and exceptional communication between providers.

Tips for comparing plans

No two Medicare beneficiaries have the same needs. You might hate the plan your neighbor loves. So don't rely on customer reviews or reputation alone. Some questions to ask as you compare plans include:

  • Does the Kaiser plan in my area have a good reputation?
  • Which doctors does this plan cover? Do these doctors have good reviews?
  • How much will I pay for care? What are the copays and what is the deductible?
  • Does the plan offer supplemental services?
  • Would another plan better serve my needs while offering me more providers to choose from?
  • Am I comfortable choosing from a limited pool of providers?