Two new studies by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) offer a comprehensive look at Medicare Advantage (MA) plans and Medicare Part D stand-alone prescription plans. Here’s what they uncovered.
Medicare beneficiaries will have a record number of MA plans available to choose from for 2022 but fewer Medicare Part D stand-alone prescription drugs plans, according to two new KFF analyses.
The MA marketplace
- Medicare beneficiaries can choose from 3,834 MA plans across the country as alternatives to traditional Medicare for 2022, an increase of eight percent from 2021, and the largest number of plans available in more than a decade.
- In 2022, a typical beneficiary will have 39 plans to choose from in their local market.
- The number of available MA plans varies greatly across the country, with an average of 42 plans in metropolitan areas and 25 plans in non-metropolitan areas.
- In 2022, 25 percent of beneficiaries live in a county where they can choose among 50 MA plans.
- Nearly 90 percent of MA plans include prescription drug coverage. Of these plans, 59 percent do not charge any additional premium beyond Medicare’s standard Part B premium.
- More than 90 percent of non-group Medicare Advantage plans offer some vision, telehealth, hearing, or dental benefits.
- MA enrollment is concentrated in plans operated by UnitedHealthcare, Humana, and Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates. Together, UnitedHealth and Humana account for 45 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollment in 2021.
Medicare Part D marketplace
- The number of Medicare Part D stand-alone prescription drug plans offered in 2022 is decreasing by 23 percent to 766 plans, which is primarily the result of firm consolidations leading to fewer plan offerings sponsored by Cigna and Centene.
- The typical Medicare beneficiary will have a choice of 23 stand-alone drug plans next year, seven fewer than in 2021.
- Beneficiaries receiving low-income subsidies will also have fewer premium-free plan choices in 2022, which could make it more difficult for some enrollees to find a premium-free plan that covers all their prescription medications.
- Eight out of 10 enrollees next year are projected to be in stand-alone plans operated by just four firms: CVS Health, Centene, UnitedHealth, and Humana.
- The estimated average monthly premium for Medicare Part D stand-alone drug plans is projected to be $43 in 2022 based on current enrollment, while average monthly premiums for the 16 national stand-alone drug plans available in 2022 are projected to range from $7 to $99.
- Nearly three-fourths, or 10 million, of the 13.3 million stand-alone drug plan enrollees who don’t qualify for low-income subsidies (LIS) will have to pay higher premiums next year if they stick with their current plan and many will also face higher deductibles and cost sharing for covered drugs.
- While the average weighted monthly PDP premium is increasing by $5 between 2021 and 2022 (from $38 to $43), nearly 4 million non-LIS enrollees (28 percent) will see a premium increase of $10 or more per month. Substantially fewer non-LIS enrollees (0.2 million, or 2 percent) will see a premium reduction of the same magnitude.