A new brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation documents the continuing climb in Medicare Advantage plan enrollment, even at a time when payments to such plans are being reduced under the Affordable Care Act. Despite spending reductions enacted in the ACA to reduce historical overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans, from March 2013 to March 2014 enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans grew by 9 percent, or 1.4 million people, to reach a total of 15.7 million Medicare beneficiaries. The Medicare Advantage 2014 Spotlight: Enrollment Market Update highlights that 30 percent of the Medicare population is now enrolled in such plans, up from 24 percent in 2010, and analyzes trends in Medicare Advantage enrollment, premiums, out of pocket limits, prescription drug coverage and related topics. Other key findings include:
- Medicare Advantage enrollment continues to vary geographically. Eighteen states had more than 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage plans, while six states (AK, DE, MD, NH, VT and WY) had fewer than 10 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage plans;
- Since 2013, most of the enrollment growth in Medicare Advantage plans has been in the individual market, but enrollment for retirees in the group (employment-based) market increased relatively rapidly in 2014 and accounts for almost one-third of total Medicare Advantage enrollment growth in the past year;
- Premiums in Medicare Advantage plans averaged $35 per month in 2014, reflecting little change since 2012 and remaining below average premium levels in 2011 ($39) and 2010 ($44);
- Out-of-pocket spending limits have been on the rise in recent years, with the share of Medicare Advantage enrollees in plans with limits above $5,000 almost doubling from 24 percent in 2011 to 44 percent in 2014. Medicare Advantage plans, unlike traditional Medicare, are required to limit out-of-pocket costs for services covered under Parts A and B ($3,400 is recommended; $6,700 is the maximum).
The full analysis is available online, as are the Foundation’s updated Medicare Advantage fact sheet and our latest spotlight on Medicare Advantage plan availability and premiums.
Also available is the Foundation’s newly updated interactive Medicare Health and Prescription Drug Plan Tracker, where users can monitor trends in enrollment, market penetration and other topics for Medicare Advantage plans since 1999 and stand-alone Medicare drug plans since 2006 by state, county and other sub-state geographies.
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KFF: for trusted information on the health issues facing the nation and its people. The Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.