Shrank's team noted that the majority of plans earned middle-range ratings of either three or three-and-a-half stars. So while Medicare Advantage enrollees in the study typically could choose from about 17 plans available to them, only two plans on average had four or more stars.
Besides considering star ratings, people researching Medicare Advantage plans should evaluate how well each plan would cover the prescription drugs they take, and whether their doctors and providers would accept the plan, experts say.
"I don't care if it's 29 stars, if providers don't accept the plan," says Patty Price, who performs training and education for the State of Iowa Senior Health Insurance Information Program, or Iowa SHIIP, which provides free advice to Iowa Medicare recipients on their health care options. "You have to see if their providers accept it."
[Each state has counselors to freely help seniors with their Medicare options: see a list of contacts by state.]
[Read more from U.S. News: Issues With the Government's Star Ratings]