Why Black Medicare Beneficiaries Are Choosing Medicare Advantage at a Higher Rate

Black Medicare beneficiaries are choosing Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans at a higher rate than the average for all Medicare beneficiaries. Learn more about the enrollment data and explore some reasons why this trend may be happening.

Nearly half of all Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan in 2023.1 These plans, sold by private insurance companies, offer all the same benefits as Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B). Medicare Advantage plans may also offer benefits not found in Medicare Part A or Part B.

These millions of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are made up of people in various states and of different ages, genders, races and ethnic backgrounds. And a recent study highlights how attractive these plans have especially become to Black beneficiaries. 

Black beneficiaries choosing Medicare Advantage at a higher rate 

A study conducted by the Better Medicare Alliance (BMA), found 34% of White beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, while 31% of beneficiaries of other ethnicities were enrolled in Part C plans.

From the study, 49% of all Black Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. 53% of Latino Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, making them the only ethnic group with a higher Medicare Advantage enrollment rate.2 

Many Black beneficiaries who enroll in Medicare Advantage are saving money 

The decision to enroll in Medicare Advantage has been paying off for many Black beneficiaries.

According to a 2021 study from ATI Advisory for BMA, Black Medicare beneficiaries saw an average annual savings of $1,270 when compared to those enrolled in Original Medicare.3 Annual out-of-pocket spending among Black beneficiaries averaged $2,067 for those in Medicare Advantage plans, compared to $3,337 for those who had Original Medicare.

Why Are many Black Medicare beneficiaries choosing Medicare Advantage plans?

So why have Medicare Advantage plans become so popular among Black Medicare beneficiaries? The study did not gather data on any specific reasons why Black beneficiaries are choosing Medicare Advantage plans, but it does provide some data that may point to a few possible factors at play. 

Medicare Advantage plans can be a good fit for some people with low incomes

One might think that private Medicare insurance would be geared more toward beneficiaries of higher incomes. But the data suggests the opposite is true.

According to the study, 77% of Black Medicare Advantage beneficiaries had a reported income of less than 200% of the federal poverty level, compared to 69% of Black beneficiaries enrolled in Original Medicare. 

Medicare Advantage plans designed specifically for Medicaid beneficiaries

Medicaid beneficiaries who are also eligible for Medicare may be able to enroll in a particular type of Medicare Advantage plan known as a Dual-eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP), if those types of plans are available where a beneficiary lives.

These plans are designed with the needs of Medicaid beneficiaries in mind and offer coordinated care and administration of Medicare and Medicaid benefits. 

Medicare Advantage plans for people with chronic conditions 

Chronic condition Special Needs Plans (C-SNP) are a type of Medicare Advantage plan built specifically for the unique health care needs of someone with a chronic condition. These types of Medicare Advantage plans can offer beneficiaries with particular conditions more complete care than Original Medicare.  

Among Black Medicare beneficiaries, 46% of those enrolled in Original Medicare reported having more than three chronic conditions, while 52% of those enrolled in Medicare Advantage reported the same. 

Medicare Advantage plans can be attractive to those in poor health

Medicare Advantage plans can offer additional benefits that are not found available in Original Medicare.  

These benefits can make Medicare Advantage plans more attractive to those in poor health, and 35% of Black beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage plans rated their health as poor or fair, compared to 30% of Black beneficiaries who have Original Medicare and rated their health as poor or fair. 

Many Medicare Advantage plans come in the form of Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans, which utilize a primary care doctor and coordination of care among the plan’s network of specialists for a more patient-focused approach to care. 

In conclusion 

Black Medicare beneficiaries enroll in Medicare Advantage plans at a higher rate than the overall average. Some of the possible reasons for the popularity of Medicare Advantage plans among Black beneficiaries include the way these plans address the needs of Medicaid beneficiaries and those with chronic conditions or other negative social determinants of health.  

How do you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan?

Compare plans for free online, or call today to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you compare Medicare plans available where you live.

Compare plans today.

Speak with a licensed insurance agent



About the author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with MedicareAdvantage.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

Christian has written hundreds of articles for MedicareAvantage.com that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at Mike@tzhealthmedia.com.

MarketWatch logo

Yahoo Finance logo 


WebMD Logo

South Florida Sun Sentinel Logo

WRAL.com Logo

Deseret News Logo

Healthcare Finance Logo

1 Freed M, et al. (Nov. 10, 2022). Medicare Advantage 2023 Spotlight: First Look. Kaiser Family Foundation. www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/medicare-advantage-2023-spotlight-first-look.

2. State of Medicare Advantage. www.bettermedicarealliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/BMA-State-of-MA-2022.pdf

3. Medicare Advantage Offers High Quality Care and Cost Protections to Racially and Ethnically Diverse Populations. www.bettermedicarealliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/BMA_2021-Q2-Data-Brief_6.15.21.pdf