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Medicare Advantage 2024: Key Trends & Statistics

February 1, 2024

Medicare Advantage 2024: Key Trends & Statistics

Over the years, Medicare Advantage plans have faced dynamic changes and growth. As the Medicare landscape continues to evolve, so does the number of Medicare Advantage plan choices across the nation.

Whether you're a Medicare-eligible consumer seeking key Medicare information or a policymaker shaping the future of healthcare, understanding the current Medicare landscape is crucial. 

This article will give insight in the factors that will influence healthcare choices in the coming year. We'll also provide a snapshot of the key trends and statistics around Medicare Advantage for 2024. Now let's dive in. 

A brief introduction to Medicare Advantage 

Medicare Advantage plans are private insurance plans that provide an alternative way for beneficiaries to receive their Medicare. This section covers the fundamentals of Medicare Advantage plans if you're seeking a quick overview.

Understanding Medicare Advantage 

Medicare Advantage plans (also known as Medicare Part C) are offered by private insurance companies. Meanwhile, Original Medicare (Parts A & B) is administered by the federal government.

While Medicare Advantage plans include the benefits of Medicare Part A and B, these plans may also offer additional benefits that Original Medicare does not cover. While these benefits vary by plan type, Medicare Advantage plan benefits can include dental, vision, and/or prescription drug coverage.  As a result, Medicare Advantage serves as a comprehensive healthcare solution for beneficiaries seeking a more inclusive healthcare package. 

Under your Medicare Advantage plan, you will have to stay in your network to get care. You also may have some out-of-pocket expenses when you receive certain services and procedures. These costs may come in the form of copays or coinsurance. 

Some Medicare Advantage plans are available at no additional premium beyond your Part B premiums.

History of Medicare Advantage Plans

The historical roots of Medicare and Medicare Advantage can be traced back to the mid-20th century. In 1965, during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, the U.S. Congress passed the Social Security Amendments, which established both Medicare and Medicaid as part of the Social Security Act. Medicare was then designed to provide health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older, as well as certain younger individuals with disabilities. The initial goal was to address the healthcare needs of an aging population. 

Over time, Medicare Advantage was introduced in the 1990s as Medicare + Choice, increasing plan choices and allowing private insurance companies to offer Medicare plans with additional benefits beyond the traditional fee-for-service model. In 2003, the name Medicare + Choice changed to Medicare Advantage. This evolution reflects a commitment to expanding healthcare access and improving services for older and disabled individuals in the United States.

The Pros of Medicare Advantage Plans for Medicare Beneficiaries 

Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative for beneficiaries to receive their Original Medicare (Parts A and B) benefits. Beyond the coverage provided by Original Medicare, these plans often come bundled with additional benefits, making them an attractive option for those seeking a more holistic healthcare solution. Here are some high-level pros of Medicare Advantage plans: 

  • Comprehensive Coverage: Medicare Advantage plans cover hospital (Part A) and medical insurance (Part B), consolidating these services into a single plan. This streamlined approach simplifies healthcare management for beneficiaries. 
  • Additional Benefits: Medicare Advantage plans may include additional benefits such as prescription drug coverage (Part D), dental, vision, and wellness programs. This extra layer of benefits addresses a broader spectrum of healthcare needs. 
  • Cost-Efficiency: Some beneficiaries find that Medicare Advantage plans offer cost savings, particularly when considering the additional benefits and potential reductions in out-of-pocket expenses. 
  • Care Coordination: Many Medicare Advantage plans emphasize coordinated care, providing beneficiaries with a more integrated and organized healthcare experience. This focus on collaboration among healthcare providers can enhance the quality of care. 

Understanding the historical context and vital benefits sets the stage for a deeper exploration of the specific trends and statistics shaping Medicare Advantage in 2024.  

Medicare Advantage: Key 2024 Trends

The first thing to know is that according to CMS, the average monthly premium for Medicare Advantage plans is $18.50 in 2024. This is an important baseline for understanding Medicare Advantage cost trends for the year. Here are some other highlights.

  • The average Medicare-eligible consumer has access to 43 Medicare Advantage plans this year. While this is the same amount as 2023, it's more than double the number of plans in 2018.
  • Of the 43 Medicare Advantage plans available for individual enrollment, about 36 plans (or 89%) will include prescription drug coverage. These plans are also known as Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans or MA-PDs. 
  • Additionally, 99% of Medicare Beneficiaries will have access to an MA-PD for no extra monthly premium in 2024, just like in 2023. 

(Source: KFF)

Number of Medicare Advantage plans available

Let's explore the number of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans available in 2024. But before we do, the important caveat to know is that the number of plans available varies by service area and/or zip code. 

In 2024, about 3,959 Medicare Advantage plans are available for individual enrollment nationally in total - a minor decrease in the number of plans offered in 2023. 

As we mentioned earlier, the average Medicare consumer can access 43 Medicare Advantage plans in 2024. This figure represents the greatest number of options available over a period dating back to 2010. 

So, if you're a Medicare beneficiary in 2024, you may have access to an average of 43 Medicare Advantage plans to choose from, depending on your service area. This average may provide you with flexibility and diversity in your options, leading to greater plan choice.

But it's important to note that these figures do not encompass plans sponsored by employers or unions, Special Needs Plans (SNPs), PACE plans, cost plans, and Medicare-Medicaid plans (MMPs) designed exclusively for specific populations. 

(Source: KFF)

Number of Medicare Advantage insurance carriers

Now let's dive into the provider landscape of Medicare Advantage plans. In 2024, the average Medicare beneficiary can choose plans offered by eight providers (insurance companies). Although this represents a decrease of one insurance company compared to 2023 and 2022, it underscores the many options available.

Despite the many insurance carriers offering plans, UnitedHealthcare and Humana account for nearly half (47%) of Medicare Advantage enrollment in 2023

Conclusion 

In essence, Medicare Advantage in 2024 is a robust and dynamic program, offering beneficiaries an extensive selection of plans, stable premium structures, and insurance carriers who may cate to specific preferences and needs. As beneficiaries navigate their choices, this overview aims to empower informed decision-making, ensuring individuals find the Medicare Advantage plan that aligns seamlessly with their unique healthcare requirements. 

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