Medicare Advantage Offers New Advantages

CMS Medicare AdvantageAs the Medicare Open Enrollment Period approaches, on October 15, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released information that shows Medicare Advantage is providing better coverage at lower prices.

Medicare Advantage is a type of Medicare plan that is more similar to traditional medical insurance. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies, but must meet the approval of the CMS.

The average Medicare Advantage premium will decline in 2019, even as benefits increase, the CMS has just announced.

Lower premiums

Nearly 83% of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries will see the same or lower premiums in 2019. Nearly half of those beneficiaries will need to pay no premium whatsoever.

New benefits

Approximately 270 Medicare Advantage plans, covering nearly 1.5 million beneficiaries, will offer new types of benefits. These benefits include caregiver support services, home-based palliative care, adult day care services, and in-home support services. People with certain conditions, such as congestive heart failure and diabetes, will see additional benefits and reduced costs as well.

Wider variety of — and access to — plans

The number of Medicare Advantage plans available will increase from approximately 3,100 plans to approximately 3,700 plans. Not every plan is available in every location; however, 99% of Medicare beneficiaries will have access to at least one Medicare Advantage plan, and more than 91% of Medicare beneficiaries will be able to choose from at least ten different Medicare Advantage plans. In 2018, only 86% of people with Medicare had such a wide range of choices.

Record enrollment expected

The CMS expects these changes to cause Medicare Advantage, which was introduced in the 1990s, to continue to attract new members. Enrollment is expected to increase nearly 12% during the current Open Enrollment Period, and cover a record 22.6 million people. This will mean that more than one third of people enrolled in Medicare will be enrolled in one of the nearly 4,000 Medicare Advantage plans.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has said that Medicare Advantage “demonstrates the successes possible when we harness consumer choice and private-sector innovation to improve care and lower cost.” CMS Administrator Seema Verma agrees: “Steps taken to improve and drive competition in Medicare Advantage mean more savings, more benefits, and lower costs for seniors.”

So as you review the plans available during Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, take a look at whether Medicare Advantage offers the advantages you need.

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