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 The leading web portal for pharmacy resources, news, education and careers February 21, 2019
Pharmacy Choice - Pharmaceutical News - Medicare Provides Continued Access to High-quality Health Coverage Choices in 2019 - February 21, 2019

Pharmacy News Article

 10/11/18 - Medicare Provides Continued Access to High-quality Health Coverage Choices in 2019

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued the following news release:

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Medicare beneficiaries continue to have access to high-quality health choices for their Medicare coverage as the agency releases the Star Ratings for the 2019 Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans.

"Medicare Advantage enrollees will continue to have access to high quality plans while plan choices are increasing and premiums are declining," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. "Along with the steps the Trump Administration has taken to maximize competition and lower out-of-pocket prices, we are committed to empowering Medicare beneficiaries to make informed choices in choosing high-quality plans that best fit their health needs."

As announced last month, Medicare Advantage premiums continue to decline while plan choices and benefits increase. In 2019, Medicare Advantage will be offering approximately 600 more plans with the number of plans available to individuals to choose from across the country is increasing from about 3,100 to about 3,700 - and more than 91 percent of people with Medicare will have access to 10 or more Medicare Advantage plans. On average, Medicare Advantage premiums in 2019 are estimated to decrease by six percent to $28.00, from an average of $29.81 in 2018.

As part of CMS's recently launched eMedicare initiative, will feature an improved "coverage wizard" to help users compare options at a deeper level to decide if Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage is right for them. CMS will also provide a stand-alone, mobile optimized out-of-pocket cost calculator that will provide information on both overall costs and prescription drug costs.

Each year, CMS publishes the Part C and Part D Star Ratings to measure the quality of, and reflect the experiences of beneficiaries in, Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans. In 2019, most areas across the country will have Medicare Advantage and Part D plans with four or more stars. Based on current enrollment, approximately 74 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees with prescription drug coverage are projected to be in plans with four and five stars in 2019 as compared to 73 percent in 2018. Approximately 45 percent of Medicare Advantage plans that offer prescription drug coverage will have an overall rating of four stars or higher in 2019.

Enrollees in stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plans will also have access to high-quality plans. In 2019, approximately 31 percent of stand-alone prescription drug plans will have a rating of four stars or higher in 2019. The majority of enrollees are in stand-alone prescription drug plans with 3.5 stars or higher.

CMS updates the Star Ratings for Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans every year to help beneficiaries distinguish between plans. In an effort to continually enhance the Star Ratings, CMS made changes to the measures used for the 2019 ratings for health and drug plans based on industry feedback.

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. Medicare beneficiaries can compare health coverage choices and the Star Ratings through the online Medicare Plan Finder tool available at (

CMS recently launched the eMedicare Initiative that aims to modernize the way beneficiaries get information about Medicare and create new ways to help them make the best decisions for themselves and their families. Medicare Open Enrollment for 2019 Medicare health and drug plans begins on October 15, 2018, and ends December 7, 2018. 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 (, 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 2019 Medicare Advantage and Part D Star Ratings, including a technical fact sheet, please visit: (download the .zip file directly).

To view the premiums and costs of 2019 Medicare health and drug plans, please visit:

© 2018 Targeted News Service

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