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Trends Are Favorable for Medicare Advantage Plans

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Medicare Advantage plans continue growing in their attractiveness to seniors with their expanded benefits and higher quality of care.

According to an industry group, the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP), there are several positive trends for MA plans that are likely to continue.

 

They offer a high quality of care

Medicare rates MA plans on a “star rating” basis, with one star representing the lowest quality and five stars being the best. When the rating system began, about a quarter of MA members were in a plan rated four stars or higher.

Eight years later, more than three-quarters were in such a plan. Also, while traditional Medicare enjoys a high level of beneficiary satisfaction, 99% of MA members are satisfied with their plans.

The high quality of care also helps keep members out of the hospital. MA members were hospitalized unnecessarily at a rate 57% lower than that for their traditional Medicare counterparts.

 

They are cost effective

MA members not only receive better care, they also pay less out of pocket. The majority of members do not pay a premium for their plans.

A separate report by UnitedHealth Group found that 3.5% of traditional Medicare beneficiaries spent more than MA members.

Also, MA plans are subject to a $6,700 out-of-pocket health care spending limit. But on average, traditional Medicare beneficiaries spend in the neighborhood of $12,000 out of pocket every year. 

These plans also help limit taxpayers’ bills for Medicare. The ACHP study showed that the cost to the government for MA members was 9.5% less than that for traditional Medicare patients. The improper payment rate is lower, too ― 6% versus 6.7%.

 

MA plans serve diverse populations

They’re not just for wealthy and white retirees. And of the 25 million MA members in 2020, the ACHP study reports that more than 60% were women.

More than half of Medicare-eligible Hispanic Americans, almost half of African Americans, and more than a third of Asian Americans chose MA plans over traditional Medicare. Over a five-year period, the percentage of MA plan members who were people of color jumped by 37%.

As for MA members’ wealth, the majority had incomes below $30,000 per year, while only 28% had incomes above $50,000.

These plans are growing in popularity. Enrollment jumped by 60% in the last seven years. Meanwhile, enrollment in traditional Medicare slipped by 100,000 in 2019. 

Some experts believe that 33 million people will be MA plan members by 2030.

 

Choices are expanding

The number of available plans grew by 161% in nine years, including 49% growth between 2017 and 2020.

Medicare is one of the most important financial supports that senior citizens have. AARP reports that 15% of the U.S. population relies on Medicare, though it covers only around half of retirees’ health care costs.

 

MA plans may provide benefits, such as vision and dental, that traditional Medicare does not. If you are eligible for Medicare, it will be worth your time to research Medicare Advantage plans to see how they might benefit you.