FARGO, N.D. – Medicare's annual open enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, but participants will be able to enroll in Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota's MedicareBlue Rx prescription drug plan year round, beginning on Jan. 1, 2012 because the plan recently received a perfect five-star rating.
The five-star rating and the added bonus of a year-round enrollment period for customers demonstrate the excellence and accessibility of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota's products and the not-for-profit company's strong focus on providing customers with the best possible service, quality and access to care.
"The five-star rating allows seniors to transfer to our Blue Cross plan at any time of the year, while plans that do not have a five-star rating can only be selected during the special open enrollment period," said Judd Wagner, Chief Marketing Officer of BCBSND. "It just allows seniors more flexibility in selecting their plan. If they try another plan and don't like it, they can switch back to us at any time during the year."
The MedicareBlue Rx prescription drug plan, which is offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota and five other Blues plans, is one of just four prescription drug plans in the country to receive a five-star rating on a scale of 1 to 5 in each of the last two years from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
"This is a very difficult measurement to attain," Wagner said. "We are extremely proud and excited to be the only plan in the state to have a five-star rating two years in a row."
All scores are posted online at www.Medicare.gov. Medicare prescription plans that receive five-star ratings can offer their products year round beginning on Jan. 1, 2012 through a special enrollment period, instead of only being available during a fixed open enrollment period.
The Star Rating System was designed to provide consumers with additional information to help them choose a plan offered in their area. Plans are rated based on several quality measures, with the summary score providing a measure of a plan's overall quality and a representation of the quality of care, access to care, responsiveness and beneficiary satisfaction of the plan. Plans with five-star scores represent "excellent performance."
"We are very pleased to be recognized, for the second year in a row, for the high level of quality and overall value that MedicareBlue Rx provides to its members," said Deborah Madson, CEO of the Northern Plains Alliance, a consortium of six regional Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in seven states that offer the product. "As an outside, objective comparison of the available plans, we find the CMS Star ratings very helpful in assisting consumers with their selection in a useful, easy-to-understand way that focuses on the overall total value of a plan, not just the premium or co-pay amounts."