The Associated Press
: "Millions of seniors signed up for popular Medicare Advantage insurance plans don't get the best quality, an independent study found. How the private plans score on a quality rating system set up by the government is about to have a direct impact on insurers' finances — not to mention seniors' benefits and premiums. President Barack Obama's health care law ties what the plans get paid by the government to the quality they provide, for the first time. There seems to be plenty of room for improvement. The study being released Thursday by Avalere Health, a major consulting firm, looked at the health plans that seniors pick, according to the plans' scores on a government rating system designed for consumers. The ratings, available on Medicare's website, assign one to five stars for quality, with one signifying poor performance and five excellent. The analysis found that 47 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are in plans that rate three stars or two — medium to fair quality. Just 23 percent were signed up in plans that rate four or five stars — very good to excellent quality. Many of the rest were in plans not yet rated" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/29).