Though WellCare and Centene have joined forces, WellCare’s ratings are lower than other providers' numbers. Only about a quarter of WellCare’s members who are in contracts with a Medicare Star Rating are in contracts with a rating of 4 or higher (out of 5). WellCare’s plans struggle in a number of categories, and member satisfaction places them behind other Medicare Advantage providers.
Here’s what you should know about WellCare Medicare Advantage.
WellCare Medicare Advantage pros and cons
WellCare’s offerings have upsides and downsides:
Meal delivery: Some plans include no-copay meal delivery from Shipt for a specified number of days, such as three meals a day for up to 98 days.
Part B premium coverage: Some plans include a Give Back benefit that refunds some or all of your Part B premium.
Lower star ratings. In 2021, WellCare’s average star rating from Medicare is 3.4 stars (out of 5 stars), compared with an overall average among all Medicare Advantage plans of 4.06 stars. WellCare’s contracts also score poorly on a number of individual factors, from the percentage of plan members who get a flu shot to how easy it is for members to get needed care.
Member discontent. When it comes to member satisfaction, J.D. Power found that Centene (which acquired WellCare in early 2020) came in last out of the nine Medicare Advantage companies ranked.
Limited state coverage. WellCare only offers Medicare Advantage plans in 27 states, and Special Needs Plans, or SNPs, in 25 states.
Available WellCare Medicare Advantage plans
WellCare offers several kinds of Medicare Advantage plans, and they vary in terms of structure, costs and benefits available.
In general, WellCare offers Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans, or MAPD, as well as stand-alone Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans without drug coverage.
Plan offerings include the following types:
Available Part D prescription drug plans
While many of WellCare’s Medicare Advantage plans include Part D drug coverage, the company also sells stand-alone Part D prescription drug plans. These plans are meant to accompany Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B and do not provide medical coverage.
WellCare offers drug coverage through the following Prescription Drug Plans, or PDPs:
WellCare Medicare Rx Saver.
WellCare Wellness Rx.
WellCare Value Script.
WellCare Medicare Rx Value Plus.
WellCare Medicare Rx Select.
These plans differ by premium, by the drugs they cover, by the costs associated with each Tier of drugs, and by the pharmacies that are in their network of preferred retailers. To find the best drug plan for you, consider plans that offer the lowest costs for your regular prescriptions and preferred pharmacies.
WellCare Medicare Advantage offers most MA members access to dental, vision and hearing coverage, unlike Original Medicare. Many of its plans offer other benefits, as well. Here are a few stand-outs:
Flex Card: Depending on your plan and service area, some members may have access to a Visa debit card preloaded with between $200 and $2,500 that they can use to help pay for dental, vision or hearing needs beyond plan coverage.
Over-the-counter benefit: Some plan members may get an allowance they can put toward over-the-counter items like cough and cold meds, first-aid supplies, vitamins and pain relievers.
Fitness benefits: Some plans may cover the cost of an annual membership at a participating health club or fitness center.
Meal delivery: Some plans include free meal delivery through Shipt for a specific number of days with no copay.
Telehealth: Many plans cover telehealth video visits with no copay.
WellCare members can contact their plan’s customer service in the following ways:
Send a question via a Contact form.
Call 800-960-2530 with general questions.
Call the member number on your WellCare card.
Visit your WellCare state page (google “WellCare” and your state) and click on Contact Us. This page contains phone numbers for current and prospective Medicare members, as well as a Nurse Advice Line and Behavioral Health Crisis Line, depending on the state.
WellCare service area
WellCare offers Medicare Advantage plans in 27 states, and Medicare prescription drug plans in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. In total, Centene offers Medicare Advantage plans in 1,249 counties , or 39% of counties in the U.S.
Centene is the seventh-largest health insurer in the country , and it is the fifth largest provider among for-profit health plans. About 1.1 million Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in a Centene Medicare Advantage plan, and the company added 773,000 new members for the 2021 plan year, both due to the acquisition of WellCare and nearly 200,000 new enrollees.
Costs for Medicare Advantage plans will depend on your plan, your geographic location and your health needs. One of the costs to consider is the plan’s premium, which ranges from $0 to $156 a month for WellCare’s Medicare Advantage plans. Of WellCare’s HMO, PPO and PFFS plans, about seven out of 10 of them offer a $0 premium . Special Needs Plans have premiums that range from $0 to $31.80, with only about 4% offering $0 premiums .
Even as a Medicare Advantage user, you’ll still be responsible for paying your Medicare Part B premium, which is at least $148.50 in 2021. (Most people pay this standard amount, but if your income is above a certain threshold, you’ll pay more.)
Other out-of-pocket costs to consider include:
Whether the plan covers any part of your monthly Medicare Part B premium.
The plan’s yearly deductibles and any other deductibles, such as a drug deductible.
Copayments and/or coinsurance for each visit or service. For instance, there may be a $10 copay for seeing your primary doctor and a $45 copay for seeing a specialist.
The plan’s in-network and out-of-network out-of-pocket maximums.
Whether your medical providers are in-network or out-of-network, and how often you may go out-of-network for care.
Whether you require extra benefits, and if the plan charges for them.
To get a sense of costs, use Medicare’s Plan Finder to compare information among available plans in your area. You can select by insurance carrier to see only WellCare plans, or compare across carriers. You can also shop directly from WellCare’s website by entering your ZIP code, and you’ll be able to compare the plans available.
Medicare star ratings
Average Star Rating: 3.4
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services maintain their own database of star ratings on every Medicare Advantage and separate Medicare Part D plan, ranging from best (5 stars) to worst (1 star). The agency bases these ratings on plans’ quality of care and measurements of customer satisfaction, and ratings may change from year to year.
Based on the most recent year of data, WellCare’s Medicare Advantage plans get an average rating of 3.2, and the company’s prescription drug plans (Part D) get an average score of 3.7. The overall average score for WellCare’s plans is 3.4 . For comparison, the average star rating for plans from all providers was 4.06 .
Of WellCare’s contracts, the majority are rated 3.5 or 3.0. Only 26% of WellCare’s Medicare Advantage members who are in rated contracts are in contracts with 4 stars or more in 2021 . One Medicare Advantage contract received 4.5 stars, and one contract received 4 stars. No contracts received 5 stars. There were also 29 WellCare contracts that were too new to be measured.
You can find a plan’s rating with the Medicare Plan Finder.
There are a few companies that weigh in on health plans or on the strength of the company in question, and we’ve included two here:
Compare Medicare Advantage providers
Percent in a 4-star plan or higher
Average Medicare star rating
46 states and Washington, D.C.
50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
50 states and Washington, D.C.
Find the right Medicare Advantage plan
It’s important to do your research before selecting a Medicare Advantage plan for yourself. Here are some questions to consider asking:
What are the plan’s costs? Do you understand what the plan’s premium, deductibles, copays and/or coinsurance will be? Can you afford them?
Is your doctor in network? If you have a preferred medical provider or providers, make sure they participate in the plan’s network.
Are your prescriptions covered? If you’re on medication, it’s crucial to understand how the plan covers it. What Tier are your prescription drugs on, and are there any coverage rules that apply to them?
Is there dental coverage? Does the plan offer routine coverage for vision, dental and hearing needs?
Are there extras? Does the plan offer any extra benefits, such as fitness memberships, transportation benefits or meal delivery?
If you have additional questions about Medicare, visit Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227, TTY 877-486-2048).