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The Changing Landscape of the Medicare Advantage Industry

In 2019, the Medicare Advantage industry has seen slower growth for 2019 than the previous years. The Medicare Advantage (MA) insurers added over 1.4 million members to their rosters for overall 2019 coverage, as they continue to look for growth in a usually lucrative market. Latest federal data shows that for the start of 2019, 22.4 million people are enrolled in MA for 2019 coverage. MA is an alternative to the traditional Medicare program, in which private insurers issue contracts with the government to deliver program benefits.

Many industry experts were expecting more growth, as MA enrollment has increased by 32% since 2015. Jeff Fox, president of the Gorman Health Group – which provides health services and other technology to Medicare Advantage plans – stated that “The formula was there: health plans were aggressive, they got nice rate increases, the rules around benefit design relaxed a little bit”. The Trump administration granted more flexibility and supplemental benefits in 2019 for the MA program, which includes in-home care and transportation.

Why the Slow Growth?

Many news stations implied that the November midterm elections may have kept many seniors from enrolling during the open enrollment period, which lasts from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 annually. Many seniors also choose to use group retiree medical benefits due to the ease and cost-effectiveness of such plans.

Despite the slower pace, many MA insurers still reported big enrollment increases: for example, UnitedHealth added nearly 500,000 MA members in the past year for a total of 5.7 million members. Humana took 2nd place, with the insurer adding 3.9 million members for a total increase of 10.4% over January 2018. CVS Health finished in third with 2.2 million MA enrollees thanks to its acquisition of Aetna. This growth was also thanks to CVS-Aetna and their decision to expand into 360 new counties. This lead to a growth of membership by 26.7% in 2018 to 2.2 million members.

Medicare Advantage Growth

MA enrollment continues to grow – despite bigger growth projections – as the baby boomers age rapidly into the Medicare system. Many seniors are unsure of whether to choose employer-sponsored managed-care plans or Medicare Advantage. We recommend using Benistar’s group retiree medical benefits due to the ease of use and decrease in recent costs.

Group Retiree Medical Benefits

Benistar is a nationwide leader in group retiree medical benefits who are focused on the design and administration of retiree medical and prescription drug plans. By working with brokers and consultants, we provide retiree medical and prescription drug solutions for companies and organizations nationwide. For all general inquiries, contact us at (203) 969-6000. For existing retiree members requiring service, contact our customer service representatives Monday-Friday between the hours of 830 am to 6 pm eastern standard time at 1-(800) 236-4782.

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