Why Medicare surveys — and your answers — matter

We’ve all gotten them, but have you filled one out? There are four main Medicare surveys sent out each year. Read about them and why you might consider responding.

The truth about Medicare surveys

Whether it’s a phone call, letter or online form, surveys are a common way of getting important information. And Medicare is no different.

It might not seem like winning the lottery, but getting a Medicare survey can be like opportunity knocking. It’s your chance to be heard. And your honest answers will be part of the data that shapes changes in health care policies across the country.

Related content: Why Medicare surveys are good for your health

There are four main Medicare surveys you could get

Two types of these surveys are sent to a random group each year. So if you get one, it’s pure luck. Use this opportunity as your chance to speak your mind.

1. The Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey

  • When: Yearly survey — arrives in March
  • Why: To rate your health insurance plan and how it works. Your answers give health plans their ratings. That helps people shop for the good ones. They’re also used to help health plans see what needs to get better — whether that’s making appointments, getting prescriptions, logging on to the web site, understanding financial statements and more.
  • What you’ll be asked: 

– How your health plan is working for you

– How healthy you are, based on how you manage your everyday life

– How you get the health care resources you need

– What can be better about your health plan

2. The Health Outcomes Survey (HOS)

  • When: Yearly survey, arrives between April and June.
  • Why: This helps measure the health of the population. This is geared toward finding both the good points and the gaps in the system based on how people are doing health-wise. Then resources can be created if they’re needed. For example, if the survey shows it’s hard for people to get transportation to doctor appointments, it might get health plans to make more home health care choices available to people.
  • What you’ll be asked:

– How you manage household tasks, everyday life and if you ever need help

– How often you see your doctor

– How you feel emotionally

– What support you have

There are two surveys you could get after you’re at a hospital or clinic:

3. Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems (H-CAHPS) survey

  • When: After you’ve been in the hospital
  • Why: To track how hospitals are performing and measure the quality of their care
  • What you’ll be asked:

– How your overall care was

– How comfortable you were

– What kinds of treatments you received

– What services you got after your stay

– What your follow-up plans were

– How your health was after your hospital stay

4. Clinic and Group Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS) survey

  • When: After a clinic visit
  • Why: This survey takes a snapshot of how your clinic and care team are working for you
  • What you’ll be asked:

– How easy it was to make an appointment

– How your care team works together for you

– How you received test results

– How your treatments were explained

– What your follow-up was

Questions about the surveys? Just ask.

If you’re wondering about a survey, you can always call your health plan’s member services number or the 1-800 number on the letter that came with the survey.

When you answer survey questions, you are doing a big favor to the health care system — and to everyone who uses it. So when you’re done answering those questions, give yourself a pat on the back — from all of us!

Related content: What’s so important about health care surveys?