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Use the Five-Star Rating System to find High-Quality Medicare Plans

As a provision of the Affordable Care Act, the government is using a five-star rating system to help you identify high-quality Medicare plans.  To rank the plans, a mix of information reported by insurers, consumer surveys, and Medicare records on more than 55 topics for plans covering health and drug services is compiled.  If you’re actively shopping for a Medicare plan, the government’s website, www.medicare.gov, offers a friendly rating system from one to five stars to rank each plan.

The good news for consumers is that the performance of Medicare Advantage plans is improving.  This year, there are a dozen Medicare Advantage plans with a five-star rating when compared to 9 in 2012.   In addition, 97 plans received a 4 ½ star rating, which means that 68% of Medicare beneficiaries will have access to a plan with a rating of either four or five, a 17% increase from 2012.

In addition, 26 Medicare Part D drug plans have received either four or five star ratings; that’s twice as many highly-rated plans as were available this year.

Unlike previous years when plans were allowed to maintain their Medicare Advantage status despite poor quality ratings, CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has proposed a rule that will give it the authority to terminate poor-performing Medicare Advantage and Part D plans that fail to achieve at least a three-star rating for three consecutive years.

To encourage you to switch to a five-star Medicare Advantage and/or Part D drug plan, members are allowed to enroll throughout the year rather than only during the seven-week Medicare enrollment period ending December 7, 2012.

To check the ranking of your current plan or look for a higher ranked plan, refer to www.medicare.gov.

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