2021 Medicare Advantage Plans: Falling Premiums and Increased Enrollment, Plan Selection

Data from the CMS projects Medicare Advantage premiums to drop in 2021 while plan selection and enrollment continue to increase.

Published October 5, 2020

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2021 Medicare Advantage premiums will continue to go down, and enrollment and plan selection will continue to go up. 

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Those were the two biggest takeaways from data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Sept. 24, just three weeks prior to the start of the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP, also known as fall Medicare Open Enrollment) when millions of seniors switch or enroll in Medicare Advantage plans.

What are average Medicare Advantage and Part D premiums in 2021?

Average premiums for Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans are expected to top out at $21 per month, their lowest mark since 2007. That’s down 11 percent from the 2020 average of $23.63 per month.

This comes on the heels of the news that Medicare Part D prescription drug plans are forecasted to see decreased premiums in 2021. 

Medicare Advantage enrollment to increase in 2021

While premiums go down, Medicare Advantage plan enrollment continues to swell. 2021 enrollment is projected to hit an all-time high of 26.9 million beneficiaries, up from the 2020 total of 24.4 million.

In 2021, 42 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries are expected to be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan

“Today’s announcement confirms that market competition works. Medicare beneficiaries will feel the difference — in their health as well as their pocketbook.” - CMS Administrator Seema Verma1

Medicare beneficiaries with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) may enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan starting in 2021. Until now, a beneficiary with ESRD was typically not able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan and was limited to a type of Medicare plan called a Special Needs Plan (SNP).

Medicare plan shoppers will also have more options from which to choose in 2021, as the average number of Medicare Advantage plans available per county will jump from 39 to 47 in 2021, an increase of more than 78 percent since 2017. Rural counties account for an 18 percent increase from 2020 to 2021 alone, with plan options those areas increasing from around 2,450 to 2,900 plans.

Many beneficiaries can enroll in Medicare plans during fall Open Enrollment

The fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period lasts from October 15 to December 7 and allows current beneficiaries the chance to sign up for, drop or change a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D plan. Any enrollment or disenrollment actions that beneficiaries take during AEP will become effective January 1, 2021.

You can compare Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans with drug coverage by calling to speak with a licensed insurance agent or by comparing plans online. You’ll be able to find out what types of plans are available near you, their cost, the drugs they cover and more.

If you’re eligible to enroll, you may be able to enroll in a plan online or over the phone.

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1 CMS. (Sep. 24, 2020). Trump Administration Announces Historically Low Medicare Advantage Premiums and New Payment Model to Make Insulin Affordable Again for Seniors [press release]. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-announces-historically-low-medicare-advantage-premiums-and-new-payment-model.


About the author

Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.

His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.

Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.

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