Percentage of beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans continues to increase
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, just over four in 10 Medicare beneficiaries (42%) currently have a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan.
And that percentage could reach 50% if beneficiaries enrolled in group plans are included, according to Jae Oh, author of Maximize your Medicare.
Medicare Advantage programs are primarily HMOs and PPOs offered by private insurers that are paid to provide Medicare benefits to registrants.
According to Oh, the cost is one reason the number of beneficiaries choosing to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans has grown steadily, from 5.3 million in 2004 to 26 million today. For example, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, most Medicare Advantage plans (89%) include prescription drug coverage, and 59% of these plans charge no additional premiums beyond the standard Part B premium of Medicare.
Coverage is another reason Medicare Advantage plans are becoming so popular with beneficiaries. In addition to prescription drug coverage, over 90% of out-of-group Medicare Advantage plans offer benefits for vision, telehealth, hearing, or dental care.
Plus, Medicare Advantage plans cover personal expenses that aren’t typically covered by original Medicare, Oh said.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a record 3,834 Medicare Advantage plans will be available in 2022, up from 8% in 2021. In addition, a typical beneficiary in 2022 will have 39 plans to choose from in their local market. And some 25% of beneficiaries live in a county where they can choose from 50 Medicare Advantage plans.
Oh describes the phenomenon by drawing a parallel to the shot with the soup.
What does Medicare Advantage have in common with minestrone soup? Their recipe varies among many different ingredients. Each year, additional benefits and additions may appear as part of a Medicare Advantage plan. It doesn’t necessarily change the plan for better or for worse, it’s just different. It might be better suited to some people’s personal tastes, but others just won’t like the change.
With all the new possibilities, it just got easier to compare plans, and that trend, according to Oh, won’t change anytime soon.