With the open enrollment period for the new exchanges under the Affordable Care Act getting so much attention, you might have missed that another important sign-up window is underway: the one for Medicare Advantage plans.
Opening on October 15 and running through December 7, Medicare’s open enrollment period offers seniors and other eligible individuals the opportunity to sign up for these private plans. According to CMS, the average premium for an MA plan in 2014 will be $32.60, down 9.8 percent since 2010.
As importantly, MA plan quality continues to rise. For the first time, over one third of plans will have a quality rating of four stars or more, a 28 percent increase over 2013. Notably, members of the Alliance of Community Health Plans comprised seven of the eleven plans earning the top rating of five stars, an impressive performance. More stars indicate better access to care, heightened health outcomes and enhanced value for your premium dollar.
For more information, check out CMS’s database of plan options by quality here. Informative fact sheets describing the plans available in each state are posted here. NCQA also provides independent rankings of MA health plan quality, with plans offered by Kaiser, Capital Health, Geisinger and other ACHP members topping the list.
Billy Wynne is the Founder and CEO of Healthcare Lighthouse, a one-stop shop for comprehensive health policy information. He is also a Partner with Thorn Run Partners and previously served as Health Policy Counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.