The Rise of Medicare Advantage

As more and more people become eligible for Medicare every day, many Americans are realizing the potential value of enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare Advantage plans (also called Medicare Part C) offer the same basic coverage as Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare), and many Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional benefits that are not covered by Original Medicare.

These additional benefits can include things like coverage for prescription drugs, dental, vision, hearing and much more. Even memberships to gyms and wellness programs like SilverSneakers are covered by some Medicare Advantage plans.

Couple smiling and lying in a park

One-third of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage plans have evolved in such a fashion that more than a third of all Medicare beneficiaries now belong to a Medicare Advantage plan in 2018.

In 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) projects that share to reach nearly 37 percent, with the numbers of enrollees expected to top a new high of 22 million beneficiaries.1

Medicare Advantage plans are becoming more affordable

In 2019, the average Medicare Advantage plan premium will cost just $28.00 per month, which is the lowest in three years and is down from $29.81 in 2018.1

Medicare Advantage plans that offer prescription drug coverage have also seen average price reductions in recent years. These plans saw average premium costs fall from $44 per month to $36 per month, from 2010 to 2017.

This included cost reductions for Medicare Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)plans (down from $36 in 2010 to $28 in 2017) and local Medicare Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans (down from $66 in 2010 to $55 in 2017).2

Nearly 83 percent of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries who remain in their current plan will have either the same cost premium or a lower premium in 2019. And a whopping 46 percent of beneficiaries will have $0 monthly premium, though $0 premium Medicare Advantage plans are not available in all locations.

Medicare Advantage plan selection is increasing

You may wonder how the cost of Medicare Advantage plans can be going down.

One reason is an increase in plan selection. Seemingly every year, more and more Medicare Advantage plans are made available. And when consumers have more choice, the competition among providers can often drive prices down.

In 2018, around 400 Medicare Advantage new plans were made available.3 And in 2019, another 600 plans will be added, bringing the total nationwide selection to about 3,700 plans.1

It’s important to note that these figures are total plans offered nationwide. Not all plans are available in all locations, and there may be a limited number of Medicare Advantage plans where you live — or none at all.

More than 91 percent of Medicare beneficiaries will have at least 10 plans to choose from (up from 86 percent of beneficiaries in 2018), and 99 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries will have access to at least one plan.1

To compare Medicare Advantage plans that may be available where you live, including plans that may offer $0 premiums and prescription drug coverage, speak with a licensed insurance agent by calling TTY Users: 711 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

More people are becoming eligible for Medicare Advantage

With the Baby Boomer generation aging into retirement, it’s estimated that some 10,000 people turn 65 years old every single day.4 That’s roughly seven people every minute who are becoming eligible for Medicare and are looking for affordable solutions for their health care.

Plan benefits may be getting better

Beginning in 2019, Medicare Advantage plans may have the option to offer additional benefits, including items like home-delivered meals, transportation to doctor’s offices, home safety features like wheelchair ramps and bathroom grab bars, increased home health services and more.

In 2012, a rating system was established that rates Medicare Advantage plans from one to five stars. Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on this 5-star rating system.

Underperforming plans are punished with free opt-outs for beneficiaries, and some plans may be discontinued. Meanwhile, providers with high-quality plans are rewarded with bonuses, and qualified beneficiaries can enroll in a 5-star Medicare Advantage plan during a Special Enrollment Period.

Medicare Advantage can produce positive outcomes

Medicare Advantage plans typically feature coordination of care between beneficiary’s health care providers.

Medicare Advantage plan beneficiaries have been found to experience 33 percent fewer emergency room visits and 23 percent fewer hospital stays than individuals enrolled in Original Medicare.

Medicare open enrollment

Medicare Open Enrollment Period is a great time to enroll

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period (also called Annual Election Period, or AEP) runs every year from October 15 and through December 7. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries are free to enroll in or switch Medicare Advantage plans.  

Depending on your individual situation, you may be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during other times of the year.

To compare Medicare Advantage plans that are available where you live and to get started enrolling in a plan, speak with a licensed insurance agent by calling TTY Users: 711 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

1 CMS.gov. Medicare Advantage premiums continue to decline while plan choices and benefits increase in 2019. (Sep. 28, 2018). Retrieved from www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/medicare-advantage-premiums-continue-decline-while-plan-choices-and-benefits-increase-2019.

2 Kaiser Family Foundation. Medicare Advantage. (Oct. 10, 2017). Retrieved from www.kff.org/medicare/fact-sheet/medicare-advantage.

3 CMS.gov. Medicare offers more health coverage choices and decreased premiums in 2018. (Sep. 29, 2018). Retrieved from www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/medicare-offers-more-health-coverage-choices-and-decreased-premiums-2018.

4 Steinberg, Jill, Ph.D. 10,000 Baby Boomers Retire Each Day in the U.S.: Four Secrets to Avoiding Retirement Funk. (March 5, 2018). BU Alumni Association blog. Retrieved from www.bu.edu/alumni/2018/03/05/10000-baby-boomers-retire-each-day-in-the-us-four-secrets-to-avoiding-retirement-funk.

Copyright © 2018 TZ Insurance Solutions LLC. All rights reserved.

MedicareAdvantage.com is a website owned and operated by TZ Insurance Solutions LLC. TZ Insurance Solutions LLC and TruBridge, Inc. represent Medicare Advantage Organizations and Prescription Drug Plans having Medicare contracts; enrollment in any plan depends upon contract renewal.

Plan availability varies by region and state. For a complete list of available plans, please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.