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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.

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have actually seen increased enrollment and lower premiums, according to the latest data from CMS. Agency chief Donald Berwick MD touted the news during his Feb. 10 testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee. The data shows that, on average, premiums have fallen 6% while enrollment numbers have increased by 6%, to a total of more than 12 million MA beneficiaries.


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