As Medicare Open Enrollment begins, CMS sounds very proud of this year’s lineup of products.
Consistent with the direction of President Trump’s recent Executive Order on Strengthening and Improving Medicare for Our Nation’s Seniors, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) says seniors “will have access to more high-quality Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans in 2020.”
According to an Oct. 11 press release from CMS, most people with Medicare will have access to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans with four or more stars in 2020, and approximately 81% of Medicare Advantage enrollees with prescription drug coverage will be in plans with four and five stars in 2020, an increase from 69% in 2017.
Medicare Advantage remains a popular choice among beneficiaries and has high satisfaction rates. Due to recent actions CMS has made to protect and strengthen Medicare Advantage, Medicare Advantage plans are better able to compete on the basis of cost and quality, CMS says. “As a result, beneficiaries are benefiting from more plan choices, lower costs and increased quality,” the release states.
As announced last month, on average, Medicare Advantage premiums are expected to decline by 23% from 2018, and will be the lowest in the last 13 years for the more than 24 million people with Medicare who are projected to enroll in Medicare Advantage for 2020.
Beneficiaries will have more plan choices, with about 1,200 more Medicare Advantage plans operating in 2020 than in 2018.
“President Trump continues to be the great protector of the Medicare program for our nation’s seniors,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Thanks to the President’s leadership and commitment, the improvements that CMS has made to the Medicare Advantage and Part D programs means that seniors will have access to more high-quality plans. Proposals for more government in our healthcare–such as Medicare-for-All–would eviscerate the progress we’ve made to strengthen the program by empowering patients to make informed choices in choosing high-quality plans that best fit their needs.”
Approximately 52% of Medicare Advantage plans that offer prescription drug coverage will have an overall rating of four stars or higher, compared to approximately 45% in 2019. The average star rating for all Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage has improved to 4.16 out of 5 stars, increasing from 4.02 in 2017.
More Medicare beneficiaries will have access to a greater number of high-quality stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. In 2020, based on current enrollment, approximately 28% of enrollees will be in stand-alone prescription drug plans with 4 stars or higher, an increase from approximately 3% in 2018. And the average star rating for a stand-alone prescription drug plan has improved from 3.34 in 2019 to 3.50 in 2020.
Earlier this year, CMS made improvements to the Medicare Advantage and Part D Star Ratings so that consumers can more easily identify high-value and high-quality plans. The Star Ratings methodology was enhanced to better account for differences in a plan’s enrollee population.
The Star Ratings system helps people with Medicare, their families, and their caregivers compare the quality of health and drug plans being offered. Medicare health and drug plans are given a rating on a 1 to 5 star scale, with 1 representing poor performance and 5 stars representing excellent performance.
Medicare beneficiaries can compare health coverage choices and the Star Ratings through the online Medicare Plan Finder tool available at Medicare.gov (https://www.medicare.gov). CMS publishes the Medicare Advantage and Part D Star Ratings every year to measure the quality of, and reflect the experiences of beneficiaries in, Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.
It will be easier than ever to compare Medicare Advantage and Part D plans on Medicare.gov. As the 2020 Medicare Open Enrollment period begins, CMS for the first time in a decade launched a modernized and redesigned Medicare Plan Finder–the most-used tool on Medicare.gov–that allows users to shop and compare Medicare Advantage and Part D plans (including by total costs of estimated annual drug costs plus premiums) as well as compare costs between original Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare supplemental insurance (Medigap) policies.
Medicare Open Enrollment begins on October 15, 2019, and ends on December 7, 2019. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries can compare coverage options like Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage and choose health and drug plans for 2020.
For more information on the 2020 Medicare Advantage and Part D Star Ratings, including a fact sheet, visit: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prescription-Drug-Coverage/PrescriptionDrugCovGenIn/PerformanceData.html, and download the “2020 Part C and D Medicare Star Ratings Data” zip file in the downloads section.
To view the premiums and costs of the 2020 Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, visit: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prescription-Drug-Coverage/PrescriptionDrugCovGenIn/index.html.