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Although Their Share of the Market Varies By State, Enrollment in Medicare Advantage Plans Has More Than Doubled Over the Past Decade, with More than 4 in 10 Medicare Beneficiaries Now Enrolled in the Private Plans

The private plans known as Medicare Advantage now cover more than 4 in 10 Medicare beneficiaries, reflecting a more than doubling of enrollment over the past decade even as the plans remain a far larger presence in some states than others, according to a new KFF analysis. More than 26…

Medicare Advantage in 2021: Enrollment Update and Key Trends

Medicare Advantage enrollment has steadily increased both nationally and within most states since 2005, with more than 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2021. The share of Medicare Advantage enrollees varies across the country: in 26 states and Puerto Rico, at least 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2021, and at least 50 percent in Florida, Minnesota and Puerto Rico. In a growing number of counties, more than half of all Medicare beneficiaries are in a Medicare Advantage plan, in lieu of traditional Medicare. Enrollment continues to be highly concentrated among a handful of firms, both nationally and in local markets, with UnitedHealthcare and Humana together accounting for 45 percent of enrollment in 2021.

Medicare Advantage in 2021: Premiums, Cost Sharing, Out-of-Pocket Limits and Supplemental Benefits

In 2021, nearly two-thirds of Medicare Advantage enrollees are in plans that do not charge a premium (other than the Part B premium), although the remaining third do pay a premium, averaging about $60 per month. Most enrollees are in plans that provide access to a variety of supplemental benefits, such as eye exams, dental and fitness benefits. Nearly all enrollees are in plans that require prior authorization for some services. Medicare Advantage cost sharing varies across plans and can be lower than traditional Medicare, but that is not always the case. Slightly more than half of all Medicare Advantage enrollees would incur higher costs than beneficiaries in traditional Medicare with no supplemental coverage for a 6-day hospital stay, though cost are generally lower in Medicare Advantage for shorter stays.

Medicare Advantage in 2021: Star Ratings and Bonuses

In 2021, 81 percent of all Medicare Advantage enrollees are in plans that receive a bonus payment from Medicare based on star quality ratings (or because they are new), substantially higher than the share in 2015 (55 percent). Annual bonus payments from the federal government to Medicare Advantage insurers have increased correspondingly, quadrupling from $3 billion in 2015 to $11.6 billion in 2021.

How Might Lowering the Medicare Age Affect Medicaid Enrollees?

This issue brief highlights key differences between Medicare and Medicaid and raises questions about how a policy to lower the age of Medicare eligibility could affect individuals who are currently enrolled in Medicaid.

FDA’s Approval of Biogen’s New Alzheimer’s Drug Has Huge Cost Implications for Medicare and Beneficiaries

The question of what would happen when a new, expensive prescription drug comes to market for a disease like Alzheimer’s that afflicts millions of people has loomed large in discussions over drug prices in the U.S. This brief analyzes the cost implications for Medicare and beneficiaries associated with Biogen’s new FDA-approved Alzheimer’s drug, which will cost $56,000 per year.

Key Facts About Medicare Part D Enrollment, Premiums, and Cost Sharing in 2021

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, including stand-alone drug plans and Medicare Advantage drug plans. This analysis provides the latest data about Part D enrollment, premiums, and cost sharing in 2021 and trends over time.

Expanding Medicare to Adults at Age 60 Years—Medicare-for-More?

In this column for the JAMA Health Forum, Larry Levitt examines the implications of lowering Medicare’s age of eligibility, which is emerging as a potential pathway toward Medicare-for-all or a public option among single-payer advocates. He explores the implications for costs, industry, people and broader reform efforts.

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