Seeing Stars: CMS Releases 2018 Star Ratings

On Wednesday, October 11, CMS released the Star Ratings for 2018 Medicare Advantage (MA) plans and prescription drug plans (PDPs). The Stars program is intended to help beneficiaries compare the quality of health and drug plans being offered through the online Medicare Plan Finder tool. MA and Part D plans are given a rating on a 1- to 5-star scale, with 1 star representing poor performance and 5 stars representing excellent performance.

MA Plans
In a press release, the agency touted the broad availability of quality options: In 2018, approximately 73% of Medicare Advantage enrollees with prescription drug coverage will be in plans with 4 and 5 stars compared to 69% in 2017. Approximately 44% of MA plans offering prescription drug coverage will have an overall rating of 4 stars or higher in 2018.

The number of MA plans available to individuals to choose from across the country is increasing from about 2,700 to more than 3,100—and more than 85% of people with Medicare will have access to 10 or more MA plans.

CMS also noted the improved access to highly rated PDPs. In 2018, approximately 47% of enrollees in stand-alone prescription drug plans will be in plans with 4 and 5 stars compared to 41% of enrollees in 2017. Approximately 52% of PDPs will have a rating of 4 stars or higher in 2018.

The combination of increased access to higher-rated MA plans and PDPs, coupled with decreased monthly premiums (as addressed in last week’s Health Policy Weekly), could be good news for CMS and beneficiaries, especially since CMS projects enrollment in MA plans at an all-time high in 2018.

Health Policy Weekly is written by Xcenda, a consultancy and business unit of AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group. Visit Xcenda’s online archive to access more health policy news.

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