A record 3,148 Medicare Advantage plans will be available across the country as alternatives to traditional Medicare, a new KFF analysis finds. That’s up 15% from last year’s 2,734 plans and results in a typical beneficiary having 28 plans available to them in their local market for the 2020 Medicare open enrollment period, which began Oct. 15 and runs until Dec. 7.
About 22 million Medicare beneficiaries – a third of all beneficiaries – are currently in Medicare Advantage plans, which are mostly HMOs and PPOs offered by private insurers that are paid to provide Medicare benefits to enrollees.
Most plans also offer benefits beyond what traditional Medicare covers, including fitness (93%), dental (88%), eye exams and glasses (87%), and hearing aids (83%). Nearly half (46%) provide a meal benefit, such as a cooking class, nutrition education or meal delivery, and one-third (33%) provide some transportation benefit. Far fewer offer other benefits related to social and residential needs that can affect health, such as bathroom safety devices, handrails (6%), telemonitoring (4%), in-home support (4%), and support for caregivers (2%).
The number of 2020 plans available varies greatly across the country, with 31 plans, on average, in metropolitan counties and 16 plans, on average, in non-metropolitan counties. Six counties in Ohio and Pennsylvania have more than 60 plans, while no plans will be available in 77 mostly rural counties nationwide.
Most Medicare Advantage plans (90%) include prescription drug coverage. Similar to last year, about 49% of these plans do not charge any additional premium beyond Medicare’s standard Part B premium.
KFF has also updated its collection of frequently asked questions about Medicare Open Enrollment to help beneficiaries understand their options during the annual open enrollment period, including the private stand-alone Part D plans that provide Medicare’s drug benefit and Medicare supplement (Medigap) plans, in addition to Medicare Advantage plans.