- CMS released its annual star ratings for Medicare Advantage and standalone drug plans, and a majority (77%) of MA enrollees will be in a plan with four or more stars in 2021. That's down from last year in which about 81% of enrollees were in a 4-star plan or higher.
- For standalone drug plans, only 17% of enrollees will be in plans with four or more stars.
- The highest rated plans, or those with 5-stars, were awarded to 28 plans, slightly more than last year.
Medicare Advantage has taken a bigger share of enrollees in recent years, and the plans have been profitable for private payers like Humana and UnitedHealthcare. The stars program is designed to help consumers pick a plan, the idea being that the higher the star, the better the plan.
Insurers develop entire strategies around trying to earn the highest scores — and they're incentivized to do so.
Each year, billions of dollars are at stake as insurers can earn lucrative bonuses for hitting a high score.
Cigna appears to have improved the most, according to a recent note from analysts with SVB Leerink.
About 88% of Cigna members will be in plans with four or more stars, an increase of three percentage points, SVB Leerink said.
Cigna's David Meyer, vice president of the insurer's stars program, told Healthcare Dive last year the company has doubled down on member satisfaction to boost its scores.
"Happy customers give you better scores," Meyer told Healthcare Dive last year. "And then, I think, the rates come."
CVS and Humana held steady with 83% and 92%, respectively, of enrollees in plans with four or more stars, according to SVB Leerink.
Centene, Anthem and UnitedHealthcare all saw reductions in the number of members in such plans, SVB Leerink said in its analysis of the stars data.
Kaiser Permanente dominated the list of plans that nabbed perfect 5-star scores, according to CMS' list.
Open enrollment for older adults begins Oct. 15, and this year premiums are expected to be the lowest in 14 years, or since 2007, according to CMS. The average premium is expected to be $21 and older adults will be able to choose from a slew of plans that hold insulin costs at a $35 monthly copay.