Health Law Daily CMS announces significant decline in Medicare Advantage monthly premiums
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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

CMS announces significant decline in Medicare Advantage monthly premiums

By Cathleen Calhoun, J.D.

What else will 2020 bring to Medicare Advantage besides the expectation of lower monthly premiums?

Medicare Advantage premiums in 2020 are expected to decline 23 percent from 2018 and, at the same time, plan choices, benefits, and enrollment will continue to increase, according to a CMS announcement.

Enrollment growth.Medicare Advantage enrollment has grown, with enrollment projected to increase to 24.4 million beneficiaries from the current enrollment of 22.2 million beneficiaries (of approximately 60 million people currently enrolled in Medicare). Since 2017, enrollment in Medicare Advantage in 2020 is expected to increase by 30.6 percent.

Monthly premiums. The Medicare Advantage average premium is expected to decrease to an estimated $23.00 per month in 2020 from an average of $26.87 in 2019, a 14 percent decrease in one year, and a 23 percent decrease over 2018. Further, according to CMS, since 2017, the average monthly Medicare Advantage premium has decreased by an estimated 27.9 percent. The 2020 expected average monthly premium is the lowest that the average monthly premium for a Medicare Advantage plan has been since 2007.

More plan choices. Around 1,200 more Medicare Advantage plans will be operating in 2020 than in 2018, giving beneficiaries more choices. Specifically, per county, the average number of Medicare Advantage plan choices will increase from about 33 plans in 2019 to 39 plans in 2020, an increase of 49 percent since 2017.

Strengthening Medicare Advantage and Part D. According to CMS, it has taken steps over the past two years to strengthen and protect Medicare Advantage and Part D programs. Some of the steps taken by CMS include:

  • Beginning in 2019, giving beneficiaries more choices due to CMS removing limits requiring meaningful differences among a Medicare Advantage Organization’s plans.
  • Streamlining government review and approval of marketing materials for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.
  • Expanding access to reduced cost sharing and additional benefits for enrollees with certain conditions, such diabetes and congestive heart failure, due to the agency’s reinterpretation of uniformity in 2018. About 300 plans in 2020 will offer up to 1.3 million Medicare Advantage enrollees with access to such benefits, according to CMS.
  • Expanding opportunities for seniors to choose Medicare Advantage plans that are providing new supplemental benefits, tailored to their specific needs, to help them maintain their health. In 2020, according to CMS, about 500 plans will provide around 2.6 million Medicare Advantage enrollees with access to expanded primarily health related supplemental benefits, such as adult care services or caregiver support services.

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