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Enrollment in 4 or 5-star Medicare Advantage plans rising, new star ratings show

The Affordable Care Act provides bonuses to higher quality plans that rate four or five stars on a five-star scale.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans is expected to reach an all-time high in 2017, while percent of enrollees in four and five-star plans is also expected increases, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced on Wednesday.

In 2009, only about 17 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees were in four and five star plans, but in 2017 that number will increase to 68 percent of enrollees, the federal agency said in its release of Medicare Part C and Part overall star ratings for payment year 2017.

About 41 percent of Medicare prescription drug program enrollees are in plans with four or more stars for 2017, compared to 27 percent of enrollees in such plans in 2009, CMS said.

[Also: CMS selects insurers for Medicare Advantage value-based insurance design model]

The Affordable Care Act provides bonuses to higher quality plans that rate four or five stars on a five-star scale.

Plans that are rated higher deliver a higher level of care, such as improving the coordination of care, helping enrollees to manage diabetes or other chronic conditions more efficiently, screening for and preventing illnesses, or making sure people get much-needed prescription drugs, the agency said.

A high rating also means that these plans give better customer service, with fewer complaints or long waits for care.

Medicare Advantage is expected to reach an all-time high of about 18.5 million members in 2017, a 60 percent increase from 2010, the year the Affordable Care Act was passed.

This means about one-third of all Medicare enrollees will be in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2017. Open enrollment, which begins on October 15 and ends on December 7. 

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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