Medicare Advantage health plans should always prioritize achieving and maintaining a five-star rating, especially now that member experience has a greater impact on star ratings than ever before. As of 2022, scoring metrics shifted and member experience accounts for 57% of a plan's score, quadrupling the weight it carried in previous years.
In 2023, the average Medicare beneficiary can choose from 43 Medicare Advantage plans. As the Medicare Advantage market becomes increasingly more competitive, plans must offer a variety of programs that meet or even exceed the needs of their member population. To receive a high star rating, health plans need to find ways to elevate the experience and satisfy their members.
To stand out from the competition, more Medicare Advantage health plans are offering a supplemental benefit such as non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT). It's important to note that only 38% of plans offered this benefit in 2020, and simply adding NEMT isn’t enough. To ensure members have a superior transportation experience, it’s crucial for health plans to be able to intervene in real-time during NEMT rides to course-correct any potential issues.
Digital NEMT Improves Member Satisfaction
Traditional NEMT brokers frequently experience a breakdown in communication and accountability after the launch of an NEMT program. Typically, brokers send reports to health plans weeks after events occur, and sometimes the health plan is in the dark and has to request specific data for visibility. Gaps in communication and lack of follow up can increase filed grievances and ultimately impact star ratings. The standard of a weeks-long or even months-long delay in sending reports to health plans isn’t acceptable in the current healthcare landscape. Insufficient communication and insights create an unavoidable “black box” situation that leaves stakeholders in the dark.
Digitizing NEMT benefits using a technology-first provider allows for full transparency of rides to and from medical appointments. With measures for robust tracking and monitoring, heath plans can use all collected data to their advantage. Although, while moving from traditional to digital NEMT creates the opportunity for a seamless experience, it doesn’t guarantee a perfect process.
SafeRide is a fully digitized, technology-first platform that enables health plan partners to make better business decisions using rich ride data. With live ride tracking technology, SafeRide can detect and prioritize rides labeled “at risk” in real-time, helping health plans to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse, while also providing members with peace of mind to get to their destination safely.
In the digital age, members can easily communicate with health plans and voice their complaints. With ride technology, members can flag any issues, such as a late ride or a complaint about the driver. Not only does this create pressure on internal health plan teams to investigate problems quickly, but it also increases the chance of a member filing a grievance. By having access to real-time information like a driver's location, plans can resolve issues and prevent a cascading effect – for example, when a member is late for an appointment, it causes the driver to have a delayed schedule for the rest of the day.
If the NEMT technology alerts the health plan when an issue occurs, the plan can intervene instantly to help the member. For example, when alerted about a late ride, the NEMT technology can find and assign a new driver. When an issue is resolved quickly before the member is even aware, there’s less risk of a dissatisfied member filing a grievance.
Seamless User Experience Lowers Grievance Rates
Choosing the right digital NEMT partner can help lower grievance rates below the industry standard of 0.6%. By partnering with an intuitive technology-first NEMT platform like SafeRide, health plans can significantly reduce grievance rates below the industry average.
There are various value-added programs that might influence members to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, but the key is to provide a modern solution that will boost and maintain a high star rating. The real-time data tracking and instant communication features of a digitized NEMT benefit may convince Medicare beneficiaries to choose one plan over another.