Seniors Rush to Medicare’s Star-Rated Plans Under ACA
An effort under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to encourage the health insurance industry to provide quality benefits to seniors is rewarding higher-rated plans with an unprecedented number of Medicare beneficiaries. There are now 72 percent, or about 12 million, of the 17 million elderly in private Medicare Advantage products in a plan with a rating of four or more stars on a five-notch scale, according to a new analysis by Avalere Health, a consulting and research firm tracking the rollout of the ACA. When the rating system began five years ago, fewer than one in four seniors were in plans with four-star ratings or above. The ranking system was created under the health law to guide seniors to cost-effective and higher-quality benefits. Under the Medicare Advantage Star Ratings program, plans are rated on such measures as cutting call waiting times as well as how well they encourage preventive care such as getting regular blood tests for diabetes. The Medicare star ratings are part of the broader shift to turn health care into a retail experience. Health care, though, has a long way to go with ratings of doctors only just beginning under Medicare. Meanwhile, ratings of health plans that contract with state Medicaid programs for poor Americans are being developed, too.
David Wingate is an elder law attorney at the Elder Law Office of David Wingate, LLC. The elder law office services clients with powers of attorneys, living wills, Wills, Trusts, Medicaid and asset protection. The Elder Law office has locations in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland.