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Medicare Is Simple
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Improved quality of Medicare health and drug plans means great news for Medicare beneficiaries
October 12, 2016
by Sean Cavanaugh, Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicare
of Medicare health and drug plans means great news for Medicare beneficiaries
As we get further into the fall season, the Centers for Medicare
& Medicaid Services (CMS) is preparing for the annual Medicare Open
Enrollment, which begins on October 15 and ends on December 7. For the 2017
plan year, Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Plans continue
to provide high-quality options for people with Medicare.
Recently, I wrote about how the Affordable Care Act has
strengthened Medicare health and drug plans. In 2017, enrollment in Medicare
Advantage is expected to reach an all-time high of about 18.5 million, a 60
percent increase from 2010, the year the Affordable Care Act was passed. About
one-third of all Medicare enrollees will be in a Medicare Advantage plan in
And enrollees in Medicare health and drug plans are receiving
better care as a result of the Affordable Care Act, which provides bonuses to
higher quality plans (i.e., those with four or five stars on a five-star
scale). In 2009, only about 17 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees
were in four and five star plans; for 2017, 68 percent of enrollees are in four
and five star plans.
Medicare Prescription Drug Program enrollees are also benefiting
from quality improvement among plans, with about 41 percent of prescription
drug plan enrollees in plans with four or more stars for 2017, compared to 27
percent of enrollees in such plans in 2009.
For people with Medicare, this is good news. Plans that are
rated higher deliver a higher level of care, such as improving the coordination
of care, helping enrollees to manage diabetes or other chronic conditions more
efficiently, screening for and preventing illnesses, or making sure people get
much-needed prescription drugs. A high rating also means that these plans give
better customer service, with fewer complaints or long waits for care.
CMS is continuing to strengthen Medicare Advantage and the
Prescription Drug Programs so that they continue to provide high-quality
affordable accessible care for current and future Medicare beneficiaries.