Administration Drives Access to More High-Quality Medicare Plan Choices in 2020
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) announced today that seniors will have access to more high-quality Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans in 2020. Most people with Medicare will have access to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans with four or more stars in 2020, and approximately 81 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees with prescription drug coverage will be in plans with four and five stars in 2020, an increase from 69 percent 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. As a result, beneficiaries are benefiting from more plan choices, lower costs and increased quality. As announced last month, on average, Medicare Advantage premiums are expected to decline by 23 percent from 2018, and will be the lowest in the last thirteen 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 percent of Medicare Advantage plans that offer prescription drug coverage will have an overall rating of four stars or higher, compared to approximately 45 percent 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 percent of enrollees will be in stand-alone prescription drug plans with 4 stars or higher, an increase from approximately 3 percent 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 approaches, 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. Medicare health and drug plan costs and covered benefits can change from year to year, so people with Medicare should look at their coverage choices and decide on the options that best meet their health needs. They can visit Medicare.gov (https://www.medicare.gov), call 1-800-MEDICARE, or contact their State Health Insurance Assistance Program.
For more information on the 2020 Medicare Advantage and Part D Star Ratings, including a fact sheet, please 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, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prescription-Drug-Coverage/PrescriptionDrugCovGenIn/index.html.