Medicare's Best 5-Star Prescription Drug Plans
- Some of Medicare's Part D plans have been rated five stars. Learn how these ratings are determined and what these 5-star prescription drug plans have to offer.
Using a variety of information, including enrollee satisfaction surveys and health care provider opinions, Medicare rates plans on a scale from 1 to 5. Plans with 5-star ratings are considered the best of the best and offer beneficiaries the best service and coverage.
Below, we discuss how to find these 5-star prescription drug plans and the best way to enroll in them.
Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage Plans
If you're already enrolled in Original Medicare – which includes Part A and Part B insurance plans – you can add a separate drug plan to your insurance, which is known as Medicare Part D. Or you could choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan (also called Medicare Part C), which incorporates the benefits offered by Parts A and B while also typically offering some additional benefits, such as vision and dental care and prescription drug coverage.
It's important to note that plans vary depending on the provider. Therefore, it's important to thoroughly read your policy and ensure that you understand the benefits you're receiving before you enroll in a plan.
Finding a 5-Star Prescription Drug or Medicare Advantage Plan in Your Area
Medicare plan availability varies quite a bit depending on your geographic region. While some areas may offer a wide selection of 5-star prescription drug plans, other areas might not have any available.
To view plans that are available to you, as well as their star ratings, you can compare plans online or call to speak with a licensed insurance agent.
How Many 5-Star Medicare Plans Are There?
As of 2021, there were a total of 21 Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans with 5-star ratings. This includes plans by carriers such as Health Sun, BCBS, KelseyCare and Kaiser Permanente. While other plans received lesser ratings, all plans received a rating of at least 2.5.
Medicare determined that of all beneficiaries, about 77% of those who receive drug coverage are enrolled in plans that received four stars or more.
When Can You Enroll in a 5-Star Plan?
Medicare enrollees who wish to switch from their current plan to a 5-star plan must do so during the 5-star special enrollment period. This period can only be used once between December 8 and November 30.
Considerations to Make About Switching Plans
If you're a current Medicare beneficiary who is considering making the switch to a 5-star plan, it's important to remember these points:
- If you're enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage and opt to switch to a Medicare Part D plan, you will be automatically disenrolled from your current plan.
- 5-star prescription drug plans may not be available in every area.
- The benefits offered with every 5-star Medicare Advantage plan vary and some may not include prescription drug coverage — it's important to review plans thoroughly before making this switch.
- Late enrollment penalties sometimes apply when moving to a Part D plan outside of the enrollment period.
While 5-star plans do offer older adults the very best coverage Medicare has to offer, they aren't always the best choice for everyone. While some seniors may not have any available in their geographic area, others may find that the risks of switching Medicare plans may outweigh the benefits of enrolling in a 5-star prescription drug plan. Ultimately, it's up to you as a Medicare beneficiary to determine which plan is going to best suit your needs.