Enrollment in Medicare Advantage, the government-funded private health plans that serve as an alternative to traditional Medicare, has doubled since 2010, writes Phil Galewitz at Kaiser Health News.
More than a third of Medicare beneficiaries now have an Advantage plan, contrary to predictions by experts that the Affordable Care Act would lower enrollment as a result of reduced federal payments to the plans. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services now expects enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans to jump to 23 million next year.
“Seniors have long been attracted to Advantage plans because they often include benefits not available with government-run Medicare, such as vision and dental coverage,” Galewitz writes. “Many private plans save seniors money because their premiums, deductibles and other patient cost sharing are lower than what beneficiaries pay with original Medicare. But there is a trade-off: The private plans usually require seniors to use a restricted network of doctors and hospitals.”
Another key stat from Galewitz: “For-profit Medicare Advantage insurers made a 5 percent profit margin in 2016 — twice the average of Medicare plans overall, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which reports to Congress. That’s slightly better than the health insurance industry’s overall 4 percent margin reported by Standard & Poor’s.”
Related: Medicare Advantage Plans Found to Improperly Deny Many Claims – New York Times