By Lisa Zamosky
Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that in 2013 there will be more Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans with high-quality ratings than were available this year.
As a provision of the Affordable Care Act, the government is using a five-star rating system to help consumers identify high-quality Medicare plans. In addition, insurers earn bonus payments based on their ratings.
As you might expect, one star is the lowest ranking a plan can receive; five stars is the highest. To rank the plans, a mix of information reported by insurers, consumer surveys, and Medicare records are compiled.
More High-Quality Plans in 2013
As I wrote in Tuesday’s post, now is the season of Medicare Annual Enrollment, the time to review your Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plan options and to make changes, if appropriate. This year, you’ll have more highly ranked health plans from which to choose:
- In 2013, 116 Medicare Advantage plans will have a five-star rating, up from 97 in 2012
- 127 Medicare Advantage plans with four or five stars – the top two rankings – will serve 37% of people enrolled in these plans. That’s 21 additional high-performing plans than was available this year, covering an additional 9% of beneficiaries
- Next year, 68% of Medicare beneficiaries will have access to a plan with a rating of either four or five, up from 51% in 2012
- For 2013, 26 Medicare Part D drug plans covering 18% of enrollees have received either four or five star ratings. That’s double the number of highly rated Part D plans available this year
- Finally, in 2013, the number of plans Part D plans rated either a four or four-and-a-half-stars will jump from nine to 22
Encouraging the Use of High-Ranking Plans
If you’re currently enrolled in a plan that has been receiving three or less stars for a few years running, expect a letter from the government encouraging you to switch to a higher-scoring plan.
And that option is extended throughout the year. Although the Medicare Annual Enrollment period runs from October 15th through December 7th, people interested is switching to a five-star Medicare Advantage and/or Part D drug plan are allowed to do so any time during the year, even outside of the open enrollment period.
To check the ranking of your existing plan, or one you’re considering, log onto Medicare.gov to use the Medicare Plan Finder tool. Plans with a five-star rating will be identified with a gold star icon. Those that have performed poorly will be identified with an icon best described as an upside down triangle with an exclamation point in the middle of it.
Have you started to review your Medicare Advantage and Part D options for 2013? Share your experience in the comments section below.