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Health News Florida

The Stars Are Aligned for Medicare Shopping Season

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The stars are out –  the Medicare stars.  It's the government's ranking of the quality of health plans.

The ratings are out today because it's the opening of Medicare shopping season.  From now through Dec. 7, beneficiaries get to choose among private drug and managed-care plans for 2013. The government pays the lion’s share of the cost.

Seniors can compare how much they have  to pay for premiums and co-pays,  but they shouldn't forget to check ratings. They’re from 1 to 5 stars, depending on how well the plan takes care of patients and how high it rates on customer satisfaction.

Most plans come in, as you would expect, at around 3 stars – average. Really only a handful rate above average or below. In Hillsborough County, for example, out of 45 Medicare Advantage plans, 4 of them scored above average. Six scored below-average.

To check the ratings for your state or county, go to this Medicare web site:

To look at ratings for drug plans, click on 2013 PDP Landscape Source Files.

To look at Medicare Advantage plans (managed care), click on 2013 MA Landscape Source Files.

To look at skilled-nursing plans, click on 2013 SNP Landscape Source Files.

--Carol Gentry is Editor of Health News Florida, journalism for a healthy state, at WUSF Public Media.