Medicare Data On Hospital Safety

Maryalene LaPonsie | September 17, 2015

People go to hospitals to get better, but the sad reality is that each year patients fall ill or die as a result of errors in hospital care. To improve awareness of hospital safety, the government launched the Hospital Compare website. Now, the government has updated the site with patient safety data based on Medicare claims from thousands of hospitals nationwide.

With the addition of the patient safety information, visitors to the website can now view five categories of ratings for area hospitals:

  1. Process of care measures
  2. Outcomes of care measures
  3. Use of medical imaging
  4. Survey of patients' hospital experiences
  5. Patient safety measures

Under these categories, hospitals are rated on how well they manage specific medical problems and how often complications occur. The hospital's rating is then compared to the state average, when available, and the national average for each measure.

Medicare reimbursement change

The addition of patient safety data arrives just ahead of a significant change in Medicare reimbursement policy scheduled to take place next year.

Under the Affordable Care Act, a value-based purchasing program began in October 2012. That program compares a hospital's outcomes to the national averages and adjust Medicare medical insurance reimbursements accordingly. Poorly performing institutions can potentially lose up to 2 percent of their regular Medicare reimbursements.

Open enrollment for Medicare begins

This year's Medicare open enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. The open enrollment period allows Medicare-eligible individuals the opportunity to switch between original Medicare and Medicare Advantage as well as select supplemental health insurance for prescription drug coverage.

While original Medicare pays for services provided in most U.S. hospitals, Medicare Advantage plans may limit members to using only those institutions within its network. Individuals selecting Medicare Advantage medical insurance may find it helpful to determine which local hospitals are in the plan's network and check the Hospital Compare website before enrolling.