NewsUSA) - Medicare members have a second opportunity to join a 5-star Medicare health plan, and they can enroll in even more Kaiser Permanente 5-star plans than the previous year. The 5-Star Special Enrollment Period, underway through November, provides Medicare beneficiaries with the option of enrolling in a 5-star plan rather than waiting until the usual fall open enrollment. Seniors and individuals with disabilities must meet certain eligibility criteria and live where a 5-star plan is offered. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services created the 5-star Special Enrollment Period to encourage enrollment in top-quality 5-star plans. CMS rates plans on a scale of one to five stars, with five being the highest for performance excellence. The ratings are based on how a plan helps members stay healthy, managing chronic conditions, member satisfaction, customer service and pharmacy benefits. Kaiser Permanente leads the nation with the most 5-star Medicare health plans for 2013. Its Medicare plans in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Ohio are the newest additions to the 5-star category, and the only 5-star plans in their states. In addition, the Kaiser Permanente Medicare plans in California, Colorado, Hawaii and Oregon are the only 5-star plans in their states. In the state of Washington, Kaiser Permanente is one of only two 5-star plans. "There are many factors to consider when selecting a Medicare health plan, but this quality rating should be weighed heavily," said Jed Weissberg, medical director, Kaiser Permanente Medicare Plans. "It's important that seniors become familiar with the Medicare Star Quality Ratings, so they can make informed choices and select a plan that provides the best care and service." "Whether seniors are enrolled in a Medicare health plan or getting services through Original Medicare, this is a good opportunity to learn more about their options and enroll in a 5-star plan," said Herman Weil, senior vice president, Kaiser Permanente Medicare programs. Seniors can learn more about Medicare's 5-star Special Enrollment Period by visiting kp.org/medicare, medicare.gov, or calling 1-855-817-5831. Plan performance summary star ratings are assessed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services each year and may change from one year to the next.