CMS' Medicare Advantage Star Ratings on the rise

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Overall performance for Medicare Advantage plans with and without prescription drug coverage is on the rise--and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services credits its Star Ratings program for driving quality improvement. 

"We continue to see increases in the number of Medicare beneficiaries in high-performing" plans, notes a CMS fact sheet announcing the 2015 Star Ratings results.  

Sixteen Medicare Advantage plans earned five-star ratings. And there was an 80 percent drop in the number of health plan contracts that received a "low-performing icon" designation for the 2015 star ratings since last year. 

The average rating weighted by enrollment for Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage (MA-PD) will increase from 3.86 in 2014 to 3.92 in 2015. 

Nearly 40 percent of MA-PDs received four stars or higher for their overall rating--these 158 contracts serve approximately 60 percent of Medicare enrollees. That's up from 52 percent last year.

For prescription drug plans (PDPs), the star rating is 3.75 for 2015, up from its previous average of 3.05 in 2014. Nearly 51 percent of PDPs received four or more stars based on their 2015 rating. Last year, only 9 percent of PDP enrollees enrolled in contracts with four or more stars. For 2015, that percentage is at 53 for those enrolled in contracts with four or more stars.

Improved rankings bode well for high-rated insurers, because CMS rewards those companies through bonus payments. In 2015, plans with three-star ratings or lower will no longer be eligible for bonus payments.

And when MA insurers have a higher star quality rating, they see greater enrollment numbers, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical AssociationFierceHealthPayer previously reported. CMS encourages Medicare members who have been enrolled in low-rated plans to consider other options.

For more:
- here's the fact sheet

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