More Medicare Advantage plans get high-star ratings


Insurers that administer Medicare Advantage plans have improved their performance and, therefore, more have received four- and five-star ratings on the program's five-star rating scale, according to a new report from consultant firm Avalere Health.

That's good news for high-rated insurers because the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rewards those companies through bonus payments and increased emphasis by, for example, encouraging Medicare members who have been enrolled in low-rated plans to consider other options, reported The Wall Street Journal.

What's more, high-rated plans can enroll beneficiaries all year, rather than only during open enrollment. "It gives a convenient excuse for round-the-year marketing," Avalere CEO Dan Mendelson told Bloomberg. "That, I think, helps the plans develop brand visibility."

Out of 419 total Medicare Advantage plans, 2013 will see 127 four- or five-star plans insuring 37 percent of the program's enrollees, compared to 106 high-rated plans this year that provided benefits for 28 percent of enrollees, Forbes reported. That means 119 plans improved their star ratings.

"We are seeing tremendous quality jumps," said Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator and director for CMS. "We want to reward and incent overall quality improvement." Humana, for example, will see a 5 percent increase in Medicare payments after achieving a five-star rating, Bloomberg noted.

To learn more:
- here's the Avalere report
- read the Wall Street Journal article
- see the Bloomberg article
- check out the Forbes article