Improved quality of Medicare health and drug plans means great news for Medicare beneficiaries
by Sean Cavanaugh, Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicare
As we get further into the fall season, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is preparing for the annual Medicare Open Enrollment, which begins on October 15 and ends on December 7. For the 2017 plan year, Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Plans continue to provide high-quality options for people with Medicare.
Recently, I wrote about how the Affordable Care Act has strengthened Medicare health and drug plans. In 2017, enrollment in Medicare Advantage is expected to reach an all-time high of about 18.5 million, a 60 percent increase from 2010, the year the Affordable Care Act was passed. About one-third of all Medicare enrollees will be in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2017.
And enrollees in Medicare health and drug plans are receiving better care as a result of the Affordable Care Act, which provides bonuses to higher quality plans (i.e., those with four or five stars on a five-star scale). In 2009, only about 17 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees were in four and five star plans; for 2017, 68 percent of enrollees are in four and five star plans.
Medicare Prescription Drug Program enrollees are also benefiting from quality improvement among plans, with about 41 percent of prescription drug plan enrollees in plans with four or more stars for 2017, compared to 27 percent of enrollees in such plans in 2009.
For people with Medicare, this is good news. Plans that are rated higher deliver a higher level of care, such as improving the coordination of care, helping enrollees to manage diabetes or other chronic conditions more efficiently, screening for and preventing illnesses, or making sure people get much-needed prescription drugs. A high rating also means that these plans give better customer service, with fewer complaints or long waits for care.
CMS is continuing to strengthen Medicare Advantage and the Prescription Drug Programs so that they continue to provide high-quality affordable accessible care for current and future Medicare beneficiaries.
To learn more about the Star Ratings in Medicare Advantage and the Prescription Drug Program, please visit: http://go.cms.gov/partcanddstarratings. People with Medicare can use the Medicare Plan Finder online tool available at www.Medicare.gov to search for plans available in their area and compare plan quality, costs, and coverage.