Medicare Advantage plans get 5-star ratings

by Grant Huang on Oct 12, 2011

Get ready for an influx of new Medicare beneficiaries as the Medicare Open Enrollment Period starts. This year, the period begins earlier on Oct. 15 and will last seven weeks, through Dec. 7. A major new wrinkle this year are CMS-published star ratings for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans.

“This year CMS is highlighting plans that have achieved an overall quality rating of 5 stars with a high performer or ‘gold star’ icon so people with Medicare can easily find high quality plans,” the agency said in an Oct. 12 press release. “People with Medicare can switch to an available 5-star plan at any time during the year.”

Patients will use the CMS Plan Finder website to see the star ratings for 2012 MA plans. In what must be an ominous note for some private insurers, the Plan Finder will also show which plans received a low overall quality rating for the past three years. 

 “Over the past year, we have worked to improve health coverage choices for people with Medicare, and make it easier for people to find a plan that is both a good value and meets their health care needs,” CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, MD, said in a prepared statement.  “Due to these efforts, people with Medicare have good, meaningful choices for their 2012 plan options.”

In 2012, all MA plans will be required to comply with the Affordable Care Act, providing annual wellness visits and certain preventive services free, with no copayments.

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