To help consumers select a health plan based on quality, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services developed the Medicare Star Quality Ratings – an annual system that rates Medicare plans based on more than 50 care quality measures.

But a recent Kaiser Permanente survey reveals that few Medicare beneficiaries are familiar with CMS's rating system.

In September, Kaiser enlisted the help of Harris Interactive, a custom market research firm, to poll almost 500 Medicare-eligible seniors by phone. The survey showed that only 18 percent of Medicare-eligible seniors said that they are familiar with the government's rating system. Of those that are familiar, less than one-third have used the system to select their health plan. Moreover, only 2 percent of respondents were aware of how their current plans rates.

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