Consumers Will See Improved Star Ratings For Medicare Advantage Plans In 2014
Share of MA plans rated four stars or higher up over 30 percent compared to 2013
SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an analysis of Medicare's data that rate the quality of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, HealthPocket found that overall average star quality is showing measurable improvement from the previous year. Although there was no change in the number of MA plans achieving the top five-star rating, plans ranking in the four and four and a half-star categories have increased from 26 percent 2013 to 35 percent of all plans in 2014. Plans achieving the top score of five stars represent only 2.5 percent of all plans.
Medicare's star program rates plans for managing and maintaining health as well as for customer service. The highest score is five, and those plans achieving this ranking can be open for enrollment on a year round basis.
"This study brings some good news for 14.5 million Medicare Advantage consumers," said Steve Zaleznick, executive director for Consumer Strategy and Development at HealthPocket.com. "We are seeing more Medicare Advantage plans ranking higher on the quality scale. Evidence shows that higher quality scores increase enrollment in plans, and trends indicate that consumers are watching for quality as well as cost, which is a new and very positive development."
HealthPocket also examined the scores of UnitedHealthcare and Humana, the top two insurance carriers in terms of market share to see how their quality performance compared with the industry. Four and four and a half-star plans make up 19 percent of United's plan inventory and 36 percent of Humana's. United had 40 percent of its plans receive three stars or lower (only one plan was lower at two and a half), and Humana had 14 percent at three stars and none lower. Neither UnitedHealthcare nor Humana have any five-star plans.
Data for 2014 MA star ratings were taken from CMS files, dated October 21, 2013. Plan information was organized by MA contract number, and each contract can cover more than one state. The plan data were not adjusted for market share of each plan. Plans that had no data, not enough information or were listed by CMS as too new to measure were not considered in this research.
The deadline for Medicare annual enrollment ends on December 7. During open enrollment, consumers can review their prescription medication needs, then sort plans by quality ranking and use pricing tools to compare plan offerings with HealthPocket's free Medicare comparison tool.
HealthPocket.com is a free website that compares and ranks all health plans available to an individual, family, or small business, so everyone can make their best health plan decision and save on their out of pocket costs. The Company uses only objective data from government, non-profit, and private sources that carry no conditions that might restrict the site from serving as an unbiased resource. The founders of HealthPocket.com spent decades pioneering online access to health insurance information and knew they could offer something different that can positively change how people buy and use healthcare in the U.S. Learn more at www.HealthPocket.com.