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Since the 1970s, Medicare beneficiaries have had the option to receive their Medicare benefits through private health plans, mainly Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), as an alternative to the federally administered traditional Medicare program. The Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 1997 named Medicare’s managed care program “Medicare+Choice” and the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003 renamed it “Medicare Advantage.”  In 2017, the majority of the 57 million people on Medicare are covered by traditional Medicare, with one-third (33%) enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. Since 2004, the number of beneficiaries enrolled in private plans has more than tripled from 5.3 million (13%) to 19.0 million in 2017 (33%).

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A Dozen Facts About Medicare Advantage in 2019

Medicare Advantage enrollment has grown rapidly over the past decade, and Medicare Advantage plans have taken on a larger role in the Medicare program. More than 22 million Medicare beneficiaries (34%) are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2019. This data note provides updated information about Medicare Advantage enrollment trends, premiums, and out-of-pocket limits. It also includes analyses of Medicare Advantage plans’ extra benefits and prior authorization requirements.

What Percent of New Medicare Beneficiaries Are Enrolling in Medicare Advantage?

The analysis examines enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans during beneficiaries’ first year on Medicare and finds that less than one-third or 29% enrolled in these private health plans, including HMOs or PPOs. The majority of people new to Medicare are choosing traditional Medicare in the year they first go on Medicare. The study looks at how these findings vary across age, Medicaid status, states, and counties.

Medicare Advantage

This fact sheet includes the latest information and data about the Medicare Advantage program, including enrollment, plan information, spending and financing for the program, and payment and program changes made by the Affordable Care Act as well as other laws.

10 Things to Know About Medicare Part D Coverage and Costs in 2019

The Medicare Part D program provides an outpatient prescription drug benefit to older adults and people with long-term disabilities in Medicare who enroll in private plans. This analysis provides the latest data about Medicare Part D coverage and costs in 2019 and trends over time, including enrollment, premiums, cost sharing, and participation in the low-income subsidy program.

Beneficiaries Who Switch to Medicare Advantage Have Lower Medicare Spending and Use Fewer Services – In the Prior Year – Than Those Who Stay in Traditional Medicare

Medicare Advantage plans gain beneficiaries from traditional Medicare who have lower average spending and use fewer health services than similar beneficiaries who choose to remain in traditional Medicare, according to a new KFF analysis. The analysis finds that people who switched from traditional Medicare to Medicare Advantage in 2016 had…

Do People Who Sign Up for Medicare Advantage Plans Have Lower Medicare Spending?

The analysis finds that people who switched from traditional Medicare to Medicare Advantage in 2016 had health spending in 2015 that was $1,253 less, on average, than the average spending for beneficiaries who remained in traditional Medicare (after adjusting for health risk). The findings suggest that the current payment method may systematically overestimate expected costs of Medicare Advantage enrollees. Adjusting payments to reflect Medicare Advantage enrollees’ prior use of health services could potentially lower total Medicare spending by billions of dollars over a decade.

Most Medicare Beneficiaries Lack Dental Coverage, and Many Go Without Needed Care

Almost two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries (65%), or nearly 37 million people, do not have dental coverage and many go without needed care, according to a new KFF brief on dental coverage and costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Rates are even higher among black and Hispanic beneficiaries, and those with low incomes. Medicare…

Drilling Down on Dental Coverage and Costs for Medicare Beneficiaries

Medicare does not cover routine dental care and the majority of Medicare beneficiaries do not have dental coverage. Some beneficiaries have dental coverage through other sources, including Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and private plans, but almost half of all beneficiaries have not been to the dentist in the past year and many older adults face high out-of-pocket costs for needed dental care. The brief reviews the state of oral health for people on Medicare, describing the consequences of foregoing dental care, current sources of dental insurance, use of dental services, and beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending.

An Overview of Medicare

This issue brief provides an overview of Medicare, the health insurance program for people ages 65 and over and younger people with long-term disabilities. The brief review the characteristics of people on Medicare, what Medicare covers, benefit gaps and supplemental coverage, beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket health care spending, program spending and financing, payment and delivery system reform, and issues for the future of Medicare.