Medicare 2013 open enrollment is here and the number of Medicare Advantage plans with four- and five-star ratings is up from 106 in 2012 to 127 in 2013 (CMS, Modern Healthcare’s “Window to Washington” reports, Zigmond, 10/12).
The CMS plan ratings rank plans on a one- to five-star scale. The quality information is collected from the insurance carriers, Medicare records, and an annual survey of beneficiaries.
Overall, the number of MA plan choices grew by 7%. For 2013 there are 11 five-star plans and 116 plans with four or four-and-a-half stars (Jaffe, “Capsules” Kaiser Health News, 10/15). That’s great news for beneficiaries. In 2012, only 51% of beneficiaries had access to four- or five-star rated plans. That figure could reach 68% in 2013 (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 10/12).
According to the Columbus Dispatch, CMS officials reported that the department is being aggressive about moving seniors out of lower-rated MA plans and into higher-scoring ones. Specifically, CMS will mail letters to beneficiaries enrolled in 26 plans nationwide that have received low ratings. Additionally, the Medicare.gov website will no longer allow enrollment in those 26 plans.
Premiums for both Medicare Advantage plans and Part D drug plans increased slightly for 2013 (Wall Street Journal, 10/13). Monthly premiums for MA plans in 2013 increased by 4.7% ($1.47, on average), to $32.59. The average premium for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans increased from $29.67 in 2012 to $30 (Wall Street Journal, 10/13).