Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Top Ten States for Medicare Advantage Enrollment

A few words about Medicare Advantage (MA) Plans before identifying the Top Ten States for Medicare Advantage Enrollment.  MA plans are an increasingly popular type of health plan offered by private companies as an alternative to original Medicare.  These private companies contract with the federal government to provide Medicare Part A and Part B benefits coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in select regions of the country.  With a MA Plan, the government basically pays a stated amount to a private company to provide an enrollee with a health plan that, at a minimum, matches Original Medicare Part A and Part B benefits.  What gives Medicare Advantage plans their appeal is that private companies have been able to bundle Part A and Part B benefits, plus a variety of extra benefits, into their plans at little to no cost to enrollees.

With typically lower costs and additional benefits, MA Plans can be a great value compared to Original Medicare.  Alas, that added value is frequently created, in part, from the imposition of managed care protocols and restricted provider networks not found with Original Medicare.  While MA Plans can come in a variety of insurance models, the most popular Medicare Advantage plan feature health maintenance organization and preferred provider organization structures.  Yet even with managed care protocols and fewer provider choices, lots of Medicare eligible seniors like the value MA plans offer.  There are currently about 15.3 million Americans enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, an increase of close to 50% over the past 5 years.  MA plan enrollees now account for 30% of the total Medicare population, up from a 23% share five years ago.

To no surprise, the largest population States contribute the biggest share of Medicare Advantage plan enrollees nationwide.  But only four of those big population States ranked as a Top Ten State for Medicare Advantage enrollment in our estimation.  Those honors belong to the ten States where the MA percentage share of the total Medicare population is greatest.  Of the seventeen States where the Medicare Advantage share of the total Medicare population exceeds the 30% national average, here are the Top Ten States for Medicare Advantage Enrollment:

Source:  Kaiser Family Foundation