What are Star Ratings? [Slideshow]

Medicare Star Ratings: Let’s break it down.

A lot of people think all Medicare plans are the same. But that’s not the case. An easy way to tell which plans are top performers is to check their Medicare Star Rating.

Each year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) measures how well Medicare plans – medical and Part D prescription drug – perform. The scale that’s used is known as the Star Rating System. Ratings range from one to five stars, with five being the highest score a plan can get.

Getting five stars isn’t easy. Typically, only a handful of plans in the nation get a 5-Star Rating each year. So it says a lot about the quality of your plan. Medicare plans are rated on how well they perform in different categories. These scores are added together and the weighted average becomes the overall Star Rating. Scroll through the slideshow to learn about the categories. There are a total of nine different categories, but some are the same between medical and Part D plans. I combined a few to give you an overall look of what’s measured.

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You can join a 5-Star plan year-round. If you’re unhappy with the plan you chose during Open Enrollment, you can switch to a 5-Star plan anytime throughout the year.