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Medicare Advantage 2018 Data Spotlight: First Look

More than 19 million Medicare beneficiaries (33%) are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2017, which are offered as an alternative to the traditional Medicare program.  This first look at the Medicare Advantage plans available for 2018 analyzes publicly available data to review the Medicare Advantage plans offered during the Medicare Open Enrollment period. It describes the Medicare Advantage plan choices and availability, and how these have changed over time. Findings include:

  • Number of Plans. In total, 2,317 Medicare Advantage plans will be available nationwide for individual enrollment in 2018 – the largest number of plans available since 2009. The average Medicare beneficiary will be able to choose among 21 Medicare Advantage plans in 2018, an increase from 19 in 2017.
  • Access to Plans. The vast majority (93%) of Medicare beneficiaries will have access to at least one Medicare Advantage HMO, and most (87%) will have access to at least one Medicare Advantage local PPO. In 2018, no Medicare Advantage plans will be available in 149 of the 3,138 counties, similar to the 2017 Medicare Advantage markets; only 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries live in these counties where no Medicare Advantage plan is offered.
  • Variation in Number of Plans. As in past years, the number of Medicare Advantage plans available will vary greatly across counties. In 206 counties, beneficiaries will be able to choose among more than 30 plans for the 2018 plan year, while in 44 counties, only one plan will be available to beneficiaries.
  • Number of Firms. The average beneficiary will be able to choose from plans offered by 6 firms. About one in five beneficiaries (22%) nationwide will have a choice of plans offered by three or fewer firms in 2018 while 1 percent of beneficiaries will be able to choose from plans offered by 10 or more firms.  In 441 counties (14% of counties), only one firm will be offering Medicare Advantage plans in 2018; about 3 percent of Medicare beneficiaries live in these counties.
  • New Market Entrants and Exits. Seven insurers will be entering the Medicare Advantage market for the first time and five insurers will be exiting the market in 2018.  These entries and exits account for a small number of the total plans in Medicare Advantage market with over 100 insurers offering plans nationwide.

Figure S-1: The average Medicare beneficiary has access to 21 Medicare Advantage plans in 2018, an increase from prior years

Issue Brief

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.