Fierce Healthcare reports that in 2022 Medicare Advantage enrollment is continuing to grow at the expense of traditional fee-for-service Medicare. They write that:
Medicare Advantage plans signed up another 2.3 million beneficiaries for the 2022 coverage year, with the program now making up 45% of all Medicare enrollment, a new study found.
… Total 2022 enrollment in Medicare grew by 1 million beneficiaries, a spike of 1.6% over 2021. MA plans added 2.3 million beneficiaries overall, with part of that growth coming at the expense of 1.3 million people transitioning from traditional Medicare to MA.
As there has been an influx of beneficiaries to Medicare Advantage, there has also been an increase in plan choice. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average Medicare beneficiary now has a choice between 39 health plans. Further, in many urban areas, the number of plan choices are even higher (see map below). In 2020, there were twenty insurers that entering the Medicare Advantage market for the first time, while only 7 insurers exited the market,
In a commentary on Health Affairs Forefront, J. Michael McWilliams claims that Medicare Advantage is attractive because of its “exploitation of a manipulable risk-adjustment system”. However, Medicare Advantage plans do offer beneficiaries real benefits. Common additional benefits include access to vision / eyeglasses coverage, fitness apps, telehealth access to doctors, hearing aids and dental coverage. Some plans (37% of individual plans, but 87% of MA Special Needs Plans) offer patients transportation to health care visits. These benefits to patients should not be undervalued.