The average Medicare beneficiary will have an option of 43 Medicare Advantage plans available to them in 2024, according to a new report from KFF. While this is the same number as in 2023, it’s more than double what was available in 2018.
“Medicare Advantage plans can be attractive to beneficiaries because they typically offer extra benefits, such as dental, vision and hearing, often for no additional premium, with the trade-off of more restrictive provider networks and greater use of cost management tools, such as prior authorization,” KFF said. “The sheer number of plans presents both opportunities (to shop for better coverage) and challenges (to decipher potentially important differences across plans) although a minority of Medicare Advantage enrollees compare plans during the open enrollment period.”
KFF relied on data files from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the report, which was published Wednesday. It comes as Medicare Advantage has risen in popularity over the last decade. More than half of eligible Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in MA.
The researchers found that in total, there are 3,959 MA plans being offered for individual enrollment in 2024, a 1% decrease from 2023. About 56% of these MA plans are health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and 42% are local preferred provider organizations (PPOs). However, the share of HMOs has been decreasing over the last several years, while the share of local PPOs has been increasing. In 2017, HMOs accounted for 71% of MA plans and local PPOs accounted for 24%.
About a third, or 33%, of Medicare beneficiaries live in a county where they can choose from more than 50 MA plans in 2024. Meanwhile, less than 1% of Medicare beneficiaries live in a county where they have fewer than four MA plans to choose from.
In addition, the typical Medicare beneficiary can pick from plans provided by eight firms in 2024 (one fewer firm from 2023), according to KFF. Although many beneficiaries have options in the firms they can pick a plan from, “enrollment is concentrated” in UnitedHealthcare and Humana plans, the researchers said. About 47% of MA enrollment is with UnitedHealthcare or Humana.
Most of the major insurers are expanding into new counties. CVS Health has the biggest expansion for 2024, with an increase of 249 counties compared to 2023.
Additional findings from the report include:
- There will be 1,333 special needs plans in 2024, which is a 4% increase from 2023. Almost two-thirds of these plans will be for people who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.
- About 89% of MA plans for individual enrollment will include prescription drug coverage. Of the MA plans with prescription drug coverage, 66% won’t charge a premium besides the Part B premium in 2024.
- About 19% of MA plans will provide some reduction in the Part B premium in 2024.
- The vast majority of MA plans offer vision, fitness, hearing or dental benefits.
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