Kaiser leads the way in average Medicare Advantage star ratings for 2019

Star ratings score rankings
Kaiser earned a five-star rating for four of its eight plans. (Getty/Oko_SwanOmurphy)

Kaiser Permanente blew away its competition in Medicare Advantage star ratings, with an average score of 4.8 across its eight plans for 2019.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) releases annual star ratings for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans each year prior to open enrollment. For the 2019 plan year, approximately 74% of Medicare Advantage enrollees with a prescription drug plan are expected to be in a four- or five-star plan, according to CMS. Nearly half of MA plans that offer prescription drug coverage are rated four stars or higher, according to the agency.

Plans are given an overall rating by CMS based on their ability to provide tests and screenings, manage chronic diseases alongside member experience, complaints and customer service.The average below were calculated based on "overall" scores for plans that offer both Medicare Advantage and Part D drug coverage. 

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Kaiser Foundation Health Plan was buoyed by four five-star plans. The other four are rated 4.5 stars.

Among the nation's largest insurers remained bunched together. Both Cigna and Aetna posted a 3.8 average MA star rating, while Humana and Anthem plans averaged 3.7 stars. Health Care Services Corporation was the only large insurer to dip below a three-star average.

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Humana registered two five-star plans, while Cigna and Anthem each had one.

Eleven of Anthem's 25 plans scored four stars or more, and 12 of Humana's 32 plans scored four stars or higher.

UnitedHealthcare had the most MA plans with 44. Twenty of those were rated four stars or higher.

CMS has touted MA plans, predicting 6% drop in premiums for 2019, driving enrollment to an all-time high. The program has been notably profitable for some other country's largest insurers.