Three Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analyses examine the latest data trends in Medicare Advantage (MA). Among the findings: Enrollment is way up, premiums have dropped, and more members are in plans with Star ratings of 4 or higher.
MA plans now cover more than 4 in 10 Medicare beneficiaries, more than double the enrollment over the past decade, according to a new KFF analysis.
More than 26 million of the country’s nearly 63 million Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in MA plans in 2021. But the share varies considerably by state, ranging from less than 20 percent in Vermont, Maryland, Alaska, and Wyoming, to more than 50 percent in Minnesota, Florida, and Puerto Rico, the analysis finds.
Enrollment rates also vary widely across counties, within states. In Florida, for example, it ranges from 16 percent in Monroe County (Key West) to 73 percent in Miami-Dade County. Nationally, 29 percent of Medicare beneficiaries live in a county where more than half of all Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in MA plans.
The new analysis is one of three released by KFF on Monday that examine various aspects of MA, which the Congressional Budget Office has projected will cover 51 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries by 2030.
One brief provides current information about MA enrollment, including the types of plans in which Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled and how enrollment varies across geographic areas. A second analysis describes Medicare Advantage premiums, out-of-pocket limits, cost sharing, extra benefits offered, and prior authorization requirements. A third compares MA plans’ Star ratings and federal spending under the quality bonus program.
Among the key findings:
- Nine in 10 MA enrollees are in plans that include prescription drug coverage and nearly two-thirds of these enrollees (65 percent) pay no premium other than the monthly Medicare Part B premium ($148.50 in 2021).
- Virtually all MA enrollees (99 percent) would pay less than the traditional Medicare Part A hospital deductible of $1,484 for an inpatient stay of three or fewer days. But for a six-day stay or longer, about half (53 percent) would incur higher costs than beneficiaries in traditional Medicare with no supplemental coverage.
- In 2021, the weighted average out-of-pocket limit for MA enrollees is $5,091 for in-network services and $9,208 for in-network and out-of-network services combined. For enrollees in HMOs, the average out-of-pocket (in-network) limit is $4,566.
- Most enrollees in individual MA plans have access to some benefits not covered by traditional Medicare, including eye exams and/or glasses (99 percent), telehealth services (94 percent), dental care (94 percent), a fitness benefit (93 percent), and hearing aids (93 percent). Other benefits are offered far less frequently, such as a meal benefit (55 percent), transportation (37 percent), and in-home support services (7 percent), and when they are offered, tend to be offered more frequently in special needs plans.
- More than 80 percent of MA enrollees in 2021 are in plans that receive bonus payments from Medicare based on quality Star ratings, substantially higher than the share in 2015 (55 percent). Spending on bonus payments to MA plans totals $11.6 billion in 2021, almost four times the amount in 2015.