2018 star ratings: More Medicare Advantage enrollees in high-performing plans

patient satisfaction ratings
Star ratings are tied to millions of dollars in bonuses for Medicare Advantage insurers.

Next year, more Medicare beneficiaries will be in highly rated Medicare Advantage plans than in 2017.

About 73% of enrollees in Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage (MA-PDs) will be in plans rated with four stars or higher in 2018, compared to roughly 69% this year, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Overall, 44% of MA-PDs that will be offered in 2018 earned four stars or higher, compared to 49% in 2017.

CMS also noted that approximately 47% of enrollees in standalone prescription drug plans will be in plans with four and five stars next year, compared to about 41% in 2017.

RELATED: More plans earn high marks in 2016 Medicare Advantage Star Ratings

“Medicare is committed to empowering seniors to choose high-quality health and drug plans that fit their needs and the needs of their families,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said. “More high-quality choices mean improved quality care and better customer service at lower cost.”

 A previous study has shown that higher star ratings are associated with increased enrollment for Medicare Advantage plans. The ratings are also tied to millions of dollars in bonus for insurers, encouraging them to undertake quality improvement initiatives to boost their scores.

Insurers must use that funding for additional benefits for members, but that also offers a business boost, as offering more robust can help differentiate Medicare Advantage plans from their competition.

To that end, at least one major insurer was able to significantly improve its ratings in recent years. Anthem announced that more than 60% of its Medicare Advantage members will be enrolled in plans that achieved four stars or higher in 2018, compared to nearly 51% in 2017 and just 22% for 2016.

Anthem attributed the improvement to initiatives including broadening its product portfolio, expanding services areas, increasing local health plan staffing, and deepening the level of provider and member engagement.