Press release

Medicare offers improved access to high-quality health coverage choices in 2018

Medicare offers improved access to high-quality health coverage choices in 2018

Agency releases Star Ratings for 2018 health and drug plans in advance of Medicare Open Enrollment 

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Star Ratings for the 2018 Medicare health and drug plans. With the release of the Star Ratings, people with Medicare will have improved access to high-quality health choices for their Medicare coverage in 2018. This news comes on the heels of the recent release of the benefit and premium information for Medicare health and drug plans which shows that there will be more health coverage choices and decreased premiums in 2018.

“Medicare is committed to empowering seniors to choose high-quality health and drug plans that fit their needs and the needs of their families,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “More high-quality choices mean improved quality care and better customer service at lower cost. Medicare Open Enrollment begins soon and the star ratings helps people with Medicare shop to find the best choice possible.”

In 2018, people with Medicare will have more choices and options for their Medicare coverage. Access to the Medicare Advantage program remains strong. The number of Medicare Advantage plans available to individuals to choose from across the country is increasing from about 2,700 to more than 3,100 – and more than 85 percent of people with Medicare will have access to 10 or more Medicare Advantage plans.

Most areas across the country have Medicare Advantage and Part D plans with four or more stars. In 2018, approximately 73 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees with prescription drug coverage will be in plans with four and five stars. Compared to 2017, approximately 69 percent of these enrollees were in four and five star plans. Approximately 44 percent of Medicare Advantage plans that offer prescription drug coverage will have an overall rating of four stars or higher in 2018.

Medicare Part D prescription drug plan enrollees are also benefiting from improved access to high-quality plans. In 2018, approximately 47 percent of enrollees in stand-alone prescription drug plans will be in plans with four and five stars. Compared to 2017, approximately 41 percent of enrollees were in four or five star plans. Approximately 52 percent of stand-alone prescription drug plans will have a rating of four stars or higher in 2018.

CMS estimates that the Medicare Advantage average monthly premium will decrease by $1.91 (about 6 percent) in 2018, from an average of $31.91 in 2017 to $30. More than three-fourths (77 percent) of Medicare Advantage enrollees remaining in their current plan will have the same or lower premium for 2018. CMS previously announced that the average basic premium for a Medicare prescription drug plan in 2018 is projected to decline to an estimated $33.50 per month. This represents a decrease of approximately $1.20 below the average basic premium of $34.70 in 2017. The Medicare prescription drug plan average basic premium is projected to decline for the first time since 2012.

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 star representing poor performance and 5 stars representing excellent performance. People with Medicare can compare health coverage choices and the Star Ratings through the online Medicare Plan Finder tool available at Medicare.gov (http://www.medicare.gov).

Medicare Open Enrollment for 2018 Medicare health and drug plans begins on October 15, 2017, and ends December 7, 2017. Plan costs and covered benefits can change from year to year. People with Medicare should look at their coverage choices and decide the option that best fits their health needs. They can visit Medicare.gov (http://www.medicare.gov), call 1-800-MEDICARE, or contact their State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Those people with Medicare who do not wish to change their current coverage do not need to re-enroll in order to keep their current coverage.

For more information on the 2018 Medicare Advantage and Part D Star Ratings, including a fact sheet, please visit: http://go.cms.gov/partcanddstarratings.

For more information on the premiums and costs of 2018 Medicare health and drug plans, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prescription-Drug-Coverage/PrescriptionDrugCovGenIn/index.html.

For a fact sheet on Medicare Advantage and Part D in 2018, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2017-Fact-Sheet-items/2017-09-29.html.

For more information on Medicare Open Enrollment, including state-by-state fact sheets, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Reach-Out/Find-tools-to-help-you-help-others/Open-Enrollment-Outreach-and-Media-Materials.html.  

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