How Medicare Star Ratings Work

By RetireMEDiQ

Dear RetireMEDiQ Team,

Recently, I’ve heard about some Medicare plans offered in my area that sound like good options for me. I know that I can switch plans during Medicare’s open enrollment so I would like to find out if some of these options could better meet my needs and budget for next year.

I have heard that Medicare uses a star system to rate how good all the different plans are. Is this a good way to compare plans and find the right one for me?


Mary S.
Monroe, OH


Dear Mary,

Great question! You are right – Medicare does use a Star Rating System (ranging from one to five stars) to measure the performance of Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug (Part D) plans.

However, looking at just a plan’s star rating will not lead you to the plan that is right for you. Let’s talk about why!

The Five Performance Categories for MA Plans

Each year, Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plans are rated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) based on how well they perform in five different categories:

  1. Staying healthy
  2. Managing chronic (long-term) conditions
  3. Member experience with the health plan
  4. Member complaints and changes in the health plan’s performance
  5. Health plan customer service

Other Performance Categories for Part D Prescription Drug Plans

Similarly, Medicare Part D Plans are rated on how well they perform in four different categories:

  1. Drug Plan Customer Service
  2. Member complaints and changes in the drug plan’s performance
  3. Member experience with the drug plan’s services
  4. Drug safety and accuracy of drug pricing

CMS assigns plans one overall star rating each year, with five being the highest, three being considered average and one being the lowest.

Although these ratings can be useful, a plan’s stars are only one of many factors to consider when shopping for a new Medicare plan.

Why the Stars Matter

Retirees need to examine many other aspects of a Medicare plan before making a decision and enrolling. If you are shopping this year, look to RetireMEDiQ for trusted guidance to your ideal health plan.

Our team of experts can provide a tailored plan recommendation based on what you value most.

Visit to find the health plan that is right for you!


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